To further bolster its blue water capabilities, the Indian Navy plans to acquire five self-propelled Fleet Support Ships (FSS) that should be capable of transferring all types of stores, ammunition, fuel and personnel to naval units while underway at sea.

According to the Request for Proposal (RFP) issued recently, the Navy wants the FSS to be able to perform a 60-day mission with the capability to operate for an extended mission on requirement and be able to endure a trip of 12,000 nautical miles at a speed of 16 knots. The FSS should have a service life of 30 years, be capable of operating helicopters in extremely rough and cyclonic sea conditions and should possess ballast capability. Sources said the RFP, issued under the “Buy Global” category, is expected to elicit responses from some of the large shipyards around the world. Indian shipyards like Mazagon Dockyard, Garden Reach and the Cochin Shipyard have their hands full and need expertise to undertake such ventures. Sources said the process to acquire five FSS could take another three years to reach a final stage after negotiations, and extensive field trials.

Larger blue water navies tend to have large auxiliary fleets comprising longer-range fleet support vessels designed to provide support far beyond territorial waters. Smaller navies tend to have smaller auxiliary vessels, focussing primarily on littoral and training support roles.

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