The Navy is concerned over the delay in the production of submarines, with the Scorpene project running behind schedule and its much-awaited second-line submarine series (Project 75-I) getting clearance only recently from the government.

It has decided to keep a close watch on them.

The issue came up for discussion at the recent conference of Naval Commanders here.

In his address, Chief of Naval Staff Nirmal Kumar Verma highlighted the need to “closely monitor” the Scorpene project and meet the timelines for P75-I.

While Russia's nuclear-powered attack submarine Nerpa, which is expected to join the Navy early next year, will give it a boost, the present fleet of Kilo and Foxtrot class submarines will have to be phased out gradually, with one scheduled to be decommissioned towards the year-end.

The plan to augment the fleet strength, which includes 10 Kilo class submarine, by inducting the first of the six Scorpene submarines in 2012 and one each in the subsequent years is running at least three years behind schedule.

As per the revised schedule, the first of the French Scorpene submarines, being built by the Mazagaon Docks Limited (MDL), is expected to be available in 2015. There are reports that the MDL is planning to speed up the delivery of the rest by cutting the production time by three months from the estimated one year.

Earlier this year, the government cleared Project 75-I for building six additional submarines.

While two of them will be built by foreign manufacturers, three will be built by the MDL and one by the Visakhapatnam-based Hindustan Shipyard Limited, which was handed over to the Defence Ministry recently.

The Project 75-I proposal is to have air-independent propulsion that will allow the submarine to stay underwater longer than the conventional diesel-electric submarines that have to reach the surface for oxygen to re-charge the batteries

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