Chennai: India today commissioned a new Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) into the coast guard, enhancing the maritime force’s ability to protect national interest in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and showcasing the maturing of its private shipyard owned by Larsen & Toubro into a reliable defence shipbuilder.
Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh inducted the L&T-built OPV ICGS Vigraha into the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) here, showcasing the company’s commitment to ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ by completing delivery of all seven OPVs ahead of contractual schedule.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin, Indian Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane, ICG Director General K. Natarajan and L&T whole time director (defence and smart technologies) and board member Jayant D. Patil were present on the occasion.
The ship will be based in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, and operate on the eastern seaboard under the operational and administrative control of the Commander, Coast Guard Region (East).
ICGS Vigraha is the last vessel in the series of seven OPVs built by L&T under a contract signed in 2015 with the Ministry of Defence, the company said in a statement.
The seven OPVs programme bestowed many laurels to the Indian shipbuilding industry, including:
- Delivery of all seven OPVs ahead of contractual delivery schedule, including first of the class OPV ICGS Vikram.
- For the first time, the entire design and construction of the OPV class of ships by an Indian private sector shipyard.
- Achieving the build period of mere 19.5 months, clearing all Sea Acceptance Trials in a single sea sortie for fifth OPV ICGS Varad.
- Extensive use of Shipbuilding 4.0 tools with in-house developed Information Technology systems for real-time data capturing, analysis and decision-making for effective project monitoring and control.
“This was achieved during the tough conditions of COVID-19 pandemic by following COVID-appropriate behaviour among all workmen at our shipyards,” the company said.
“Ahead of schedule delivery of all seven OPVs is a historic milestone in the journey of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat‘ in defence. This feat bears greater significance amidst unprecedented business interruptions caused by COVID-19,” L&T chief executive officer and managing director S. N. Subrahmanyan said.
“L&T has invested heavily and ensured timely readiness of world-class production facilities, covering wide range of India’s needs. Going forward, we expect these facilities to contribute significantly to ‘Make in India’ initiative,” Subrahmanyan said.
“With multiple naval shipbuilding programmes on the anvil, Larsen & Toubro Ship Building Limited is also uniquely positioned to equip the Indian Navy and ICG fleets with modern ships in shortest possible time,” he added.
OPVs are long-range surface ships, capable of operation in maritime zones of India, including island territories with helicopter operation capabilities. Their roles include coastal and offshore patrolling, policing maritime zones of India, control and surveillance, anti-smuggling and anti-piracy operations with limited wartime roles.
“It is heartening to witness the commissioning of ICGS Vigraha, which marks completion of a yet another highly successful naval programme that epitomises the spirit of ‘Make in India’,” Patil said on the occasion.
“L&T having set numerous records during the execution of the seven OPVs programme, are testimony to our core strengths of innovation, adaptability, commitment and hard work,” he said.
“With unrivalled execution track record, state of the art infrastructure bench-marked to the global best, and robust financial strength, L&T is uniquely positioned to play a leading role in accomplishing ‘Make in India’ in defence in true sense,” he added.
“We shall continue to focus on innovation, quality, speed of execution and extensive use of Shipbuilding 4.0 technologies towards achieving excellence in defence shipbuilding.”
The entire design and construction process has been certified by American Bureau of Shipping as well as Indian Registrar of Shipping and overseen by the ICG’s resident team at Kattupalli.
Since foraying into defence shipbuilding in Mar. 2010, L&T has delivered 66 defence vessels. L&T is also contributing to the upkeep of naval and coast guard fleet by routinely undertaking their repairs, refits and upgrades, including emergency repairs and inspections, at its most modern defence shipyard at Kattupalli near Chennai.
The ICGS Vigraha is about 98 metres long, 15 metres wide, has 3.6 metres draught, with 2,140 tonnes displacement and a range of 5,000 nautical miles. It can attain a sustained speed of up to 26 knots. It has a crew of 11 officers and 110 sailors.
It is fitted with advanced technology radars, navigation and communication equipment, sensors and machinery capable of operating in tropical sea conditions. The ship is propelled by two 9100 KW diesel engines to attain a maximum speed of 26 nautical miles per hour.
The vessel is armed with a 40/60 Bofors gun and fitted with two 12.7 mm Stabilised Remote Control Gun with fire control system. The ship is also equipped with integrated bridge system, integrated platform management system, automated power management system and high-power external fire-fighting system.
The ship is also designed to carry one twin-engine helicopter and four high speed boats for boarding operation, search and rescue, law enforcement and maritime patrol. The ship is also capable of carrying pollution response equipment to contain oil spill at sea.
The ship, on joining the Coast Guard eastern fleet, will be deployed extensively for EEZ surveillance and other duties as enshrined in the Coast Guard Charter to safeguard the country’s maritime interests. The ICG, with this ship joining the fleet, will have 157 ships and 66 aircraft in its inventory.