The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence in its latest report to Parliament last week mentioned that the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had during March 2003 directed that the Navy should not let the force level fall below 140 ships as against the existing force level of 130 ships

Close on the heels of the Parliamentary Standing Committee that took serious note of the shortage of ships and submarines, the Indian Navy on Tuesday pushed the envelope asking the government to identify shipyards to begin construction of the second line of submarines as per plans.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence in its latest report to Parliament last week mentioned that the Defence Acquisition Council(DAC) had during March 2003 directed that the Navy should not let the force level fall below 140 ships as against the existing force level of 130 ships .

“The Committee take note of the shortage of the ships and submarines seriously and would like to recommend that all efforts should be made to expedite the acquisition/ Construction of the ships/submarines so that at least the existing fleet of ships/ Submarines do not fall below the minimum required level,” the Committee report said.

At the latest meeting of the DAC here, the Navy said it is time to start identifying shipyards where six submarines of the French-Scorpene series could be taken up.

Sources in the Ministry said the Navy’s push also comes as its submarine force level is depleting and as per current estimates it is expected to drop to 60 per cent of the current level of 16 odd submarines over the next five-six years and touch 50 per cent by 2020.

Behind schedule

At present six Scorpene submarines are being built at the Mazagoan Dock and the project is running behind schedule. The first submarines are likely to be inducted only by 2012 with the entire first phase due to be completed by 2017.

As per Indian Navy Staff Qualitative Requirements plan approved a decade ago, 24 submarines were to be constructed in series. The project-75 envisaged six of these to be constructed in the first phase (2000-2012) and the balance in the second phase (2013-2030).

Now, the Navy wants the government to identify the shipyards so that the second batch of 6 under project-75 India is undertaken and the rest 12 being wholly indigenous.

A recent report of the Comptroller and Auditor General too had noted that delay in finalisation of acquisition of submarines coupled with the time lag in the induction of the first submarine in 2012, the inventory of the operational submarines available for the Navy would be “at its lowest ebb and this would lead to serious operational ramifications.”

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