The story so far: In a boost to the country’s maritime capabilities, INS Mormugao has officially joined the Indian Navy’s fleet, marking a significant milestone for indigenous military expedition. The warship ‘Yard 12705’, named after the Goan port city of Mormugao, is the second of the four Visakhapatnam-class destroyers being built under the Indian Navy Project 15B, or P15B. The destroyer has multi-dimensional combat capabilities which include surface-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air missiles and modern surveillance radar.
What is Project 15B?
Project 15 was launched in the 1990s to add guided missile destroyers to the inventory of the Indian Navy. The project was named ‘Delhi class’. It was followed by Project 15A or Kolkata class which primarily focused on advanced technology and equipment in surface ships. Project 15B or the Visakhapatnam class is a follow-on class of weapon-intensive Project 15A destroyers. The project was launched in January 2011 to incorporate advanced design concepts such as state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, advanced stealth features and a high degree of automation for “improved survivability, sea keeping, stealth and manoeuvrability”. The lead ship of Project 15B, INS Visakhapatnam, was the first of the class to be commissioned. Besides INS Mormugao, the other two destroyers are expected to be commissioned between 2023 and 2025.
What are the capabilities of INS Mormugao?
Regarded as “one of the most potent warships to have been constructed in the country”, the destroyer is 163 metres long, 17 metres wide and displaces 7,400 tonnes when fully loaded. The ship is propelled by four gas turbines in a combined gas and gas (COGAG) configuration. The propulsion system allows the ship to achieve a speed of more than 30 knots (50km/h) and a maximum range of 4,000 nautical miles. It can accommodate a crew of about 300 personnel.
INS Mormugao’s firepower comprises BrahMos surface-to-surface missiles (SSM), Barak-8 surface-to-air (SAM) missiles for a long range of shore and sea-based targets and a 76mm super rapid gun mount. The ship is armed with RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launchers and 533mm torpedo launchers. It is also equipped to carry and operate multi-role helicopters. Its enhanced stealth features ensure a reduced Radar Cross Section or radar signature.
It is automated with sophisticated digital networks such as the Gigabyte Ethernet-based Ship Data Network (GESDN), the Combat Management System (CMS), Automatic Power Management System (APMS), Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) and Ship Data Network (SDN). While the CMS performs threat evaluation and resource allocation based on the tactical picture compiled and ammunition available onboard, APMS controls power management. IPMS is used to control and monitor machinery and auxiliaries and the SDN is the ‘information highway for data’ from sensors and weapons. The ship has multiple fire zones, battle damage control systems, distributional power systems to enhance survivability in emergencies and a total atmospheric control system to protect the crew against nuclear, biological and chemical threats.
Built with over 75% indigenous content, the commissioning of INS Mormugao is a shot in the arm for India’s self-reliance efforts and crucial for the 15-year Indian Naval Indigenisation Plan (INIP) 2015-2030 implemented in 2014 for indigenous development of its resources, equipment and to make the nation self-reliant in defence technology.
What is the strategic importance?
While India’s interests are closely tied to the Indian Ocean, China has been rapidly expanding its naval footprint in the region.
Amid growing Chinese strategic interests, India renewed its focus on bolstering its maritime capabilities in the region to counter the threat.
During the commissioning ceremony of INS Mormugao, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh reiterated the government’s resolve to prepare the nation to deal with any situation arising due to the changing global scenario. “Economic, political and trade relations between countries are constantly evolving. The COVID-19 pandemic, the situation in the Middle East, Afghanistan and now Ukraine. It directly or indirectly impacts every country in one way or another. In this era of globalisation, almost all nations are dependent on each other in the field of trade. Hence, rule-based freedom of navigation, security of sea lanes etc. have become more important than ever for stability and economic progress of the world,” he said.
The addition of a technologically advanced stealth warship to the naval inventory provides a strategic advantage to India and adds to the combat capabilities of the armed forces. Besides surface operations, guided missile destroyers are capable of engaging in anti-aircraft and anti-submarine warfare.