Scorpenes to become Navy’s mainstay

Mazgaon Dock commissions second submarine workshop

Updated - October 18, 2016 02:17 pm IST

Published - May 30, 2016 12:22 am IST - NEW DLEHI:

French Scorpenes will replace Russian Kilo class vessels as the mainstay of the Navy’s conventional submarine fleet in a few years. Mazgaon Dock Ltd., Mumbai, commissioned a second submarine assembly workshop on Saturday. Six Scorpenes are under construction in the first one.

Second workshop

“This second workshop will cater to building additional submarines as and when the government takes a decision. We will be in a position to quickly begin work once approved,” an MDL official said.

Having once abandoned the German HDW submarine line in the past, government sources said they were determined not to lose the technical expertise and skilled manpower gained from construction of the six Scorpenes. In view of that, the number of additional Scorpenes could go beyond nine, one official said.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who inaugurated the facility, said that overall level of indigenisation in the next line of submarines “must be substantially higher” compared with the Scorpenes which have around 35 per cent indigenous content.

He had already stated on several occasions that the government would order two or three additional Scorpenes to keep the production line running and maintain the force levels on the fleet.

The new assembly workshop built at a cost of Rs.153 crore is a pre-engineered building structure to handle construction of five submarines simultaneously, MDL officials said. It can be used to construct additional Scorpenes or the new line of submarines under Project-75I as and when it is selected.

But the Request for Proposal (RFP) for P-75I is held up for want of clarity on Strategic Partnerships under the new Defence Procurement Procedure. The proposal from the Ministry intended to promote domestic manufacturing capabilities in critical areas has generated a mixed response and consultations are on to get a consensus. With current platforms fast ageing, Scorpenes will play a major role in ensuring fleet strength.

The first of the Scorpenes, Kalvari , is currently undergoing sea trials and is scheduled to be commissioned in October and the remaining are expected to be rolled out at nine-month intervals. This means that the present line is occupied till 2020, officials said and the new assembly line will speed up construction of additional submarines to meet timelines. Incidentally the Scorpenes will roll out without their major weapon, heavy weight torpedoes, which are caught up due to allegations of corruption in other defence deals.

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