Andhra Pradesh: USS Frank Cable arrives in Vizag on a week-long visit

A view of the mammoth vessel docked at port in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday.

A view of the mammoth vessel docked at port in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday. | Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

USS Frank Cable, an Emory S. Land-class submarine tender, arrived in the port city on a week-long visit. The visit of the ship gains significance with India planning to expand its submarine fleet.

As of now, India’s operational submarine fleet includes four Shishumar-class submarines, eight Sindhughosh-class submarines, five newly-built Scorpene-class submarines (one undergoing sea trials) and one Arihant-class nuclear submarine. This apart, six conventional submarines under Project 75 , a programme of the Indian Navy, are in the pipeline and two Arihant-class nuclear submarines S3 and S4 are nearing the completion stage.

India does not have a submarine tender ship. The country had only one such ship called INS Amba, which was decommissioned in 2006.

Submarine tender ships such as the 9,000-tonne USS Frank Cable are naval vessels that specialise in replenishing submarines mid-sea.

Hailing from the Pacific Fleet of the US Navy, Frank Cable is unique in its class, as it carries a mix of US Navy personnel and civilian seafarers who are trained in specific skillsets. In total, the ship carries nearly 500 crew members and officers.

As per B. Trejo, public affairs officer of the ship, the vessel berths alongside submarines mid-sea and carries out a wide range of activities such as supplying food, potable water, medicines and other cargo, clearing waste generated by the submarine, and replenishing its arsenal.

“Though search, rescue and repair of submarines is our main job onboard, we also specialise in replenishing the submarines with stocks, which include torpedoes and missiles,” he said.

A minimum distance of 15 feet is maintained between the ship and the submarine and the deck cranes of the ship are used to transfer the supplies.

The ship has three deck cranes, with two cranes of 5-tonne capacity on each side and the third one with a 30-tonne capacity in the middle deck. While the 5-tonners move on rails, the 30-tonne crane is fixed.

“The crew from the submarines also come onboard, and can use the ship’s galley for food and refreshments. Medical check-ups are also done on board the ship,” Mr. Trejo said.

The ship is equipped with its own high-end weapons systems for its safety and has a state-of-the-art machine shop department.

“Our primary role is to take up repairs of submarines mid-sea. We have a good number of technicians onboard and the machine shop is equipped to fabricate the parts that are needed,” he said.

The machine shop primarily deals with hull repairs, mechanical and electrical repairs.

There are also trained divers to undertake specific underwater repairs and there is a remote-controlled robot to assist the divers.

Apart from a courtesy visit, there will be interactions with Indian Navy officials, who will be given a demonstration of the functioning of the ship, the US Navy personnel said.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2022 12:21:11 am |