Aiming at adding more teeth to its amphibious warfare capabilities, the Navy is planning to build four Landing Platform Docks (LPD) to join the fleet, alongside INS Jalashwa, a US warship bought by India in 2007.
The Navy is already in the process of getting the design for the LPDs ready in the next year or two and will move the government for sanction to build these warships.
“The plan is to add four more LPDs to the fleet and these would operate alongside INS Jalashwa, the only LPD currently in service,” a senior Navy officer told PTI here on Sunday.
“In the coming year or two, we are going to finalise the design for the LPD, which is somewhat akin to INS Jalashwa.
The government sanction for building these ships would be obtained next,” he said.
INS Jalashwa - a Sanskrit name for Hippopotamus - is a replenishment and amphibious warfare ship with capacity to embark, transport and land a 1,000-men battalion along with equipment and tanks to support operations on enemy shores.
Being the second largest ship in the Navy inventory after aircraft carrier INS Viraat, Jalashwa is also capable of undertaking maritime surveillance, special operations, search and rescue, medical support as well as humanitarian aid.
Jalashwa was originally commissioned in the US Navy as USS Trenton and had served for 36 years when India bought it for USD 48.44 million and commissioned it in its Navy in June 2007.
After a refit programme at Norfolk, US, Jalashwa joined the Indian Navy service late in 2007 and is based under the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam.
Jalashwa became the first ship the US transferred to India. It is also the first LPD in the Indian Navy service.
“The need for such a landing transport amphibious warship was felt in December 2004 when Tsunami waves hit Indian coast including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Southeast Asia,” the officer said.
India had rushed its warships with medical aid and food to the countries hit by Tsunami, but an LPD, which could be converted into a multi-bed hospital, would have made a difference, they said.
“But more than that, LPDs provide the Navy strategic reach to operate far away from Indian shores and support amphibious warfare,” they added.
Jalashwa also carries four mechanised landing craft and eight landing assault craft, which could be launched by flooding the ship’s well deck, a speciality of LPDs. These craft could reach enemy shores and dock to deliver infantry and mechanised troops, tanks and equipment.
It also has a flight deck for operating four medium helicopters simultaneously, apart from operating Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft such as Sea Harriers, which the Navy possesses, in special circumstances.