Stating that global security reasons, border disputes and maritime dominance have forced countries to move towards strengthening their military power, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Sunday that some “irresponsible nations”, for narrow partisan interests, keep on giving “new and inappropriate” interpretations to international laws. These are creating obstacles in the path of a “rule-based maritime order” the Minister said.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony of the first Project-15B class stealth guided missile destroyer INS Visakhapatnam , in Mumbai, Mr. Singh said, “In the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982, territorial waters of nations, exclusive economic zones and the principle of ‘Good order at sea’ have been propounded. Some irresponsible nations, for the sake of their narrow partisan interests, keep on giving new and inappropriate interpretations to these international laws from hegemonic tendencies. The arbitrary interpretations create obstacles in the path of a rule-based maritime order.”
“We envision a rule-based Indo-Pacific, with freedom of navigation, free trade and universal values, in which the interests of all the participating countries are protected,” Mr. Singh stated.
Asserting that India’s interests are directly linked with the Indian Ocean and the region is crucial for the world economy, Mr. Singh said challenges such as piracy, terrorism, illegal smuggling of arms and narcotics, human trafficking, illegal fishing and damage to the environment are equally responsible for affecting the maritime domain.
“Therefore, the role of the Indian Navy becomes very important in the entire Indo-Pacific region,” he said.
Describing the development of indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant , which is undergoing trials, as an important milestone in indigenous development, Mr. Singh said: “The carrier will increase our reach from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean. Its commissioning will be a golden moment in the history of the Indian defence. It will be the best occasion to celebrate the 75th anniversary of India's independence and the 50th anniversary of India's victory in 1971 war.”
INS Visakhapatnam is the first of four P-15B ships designed by the Navy’s Directorate of Naval Design and constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited, Mumbai. It measures 163m in length, 17m in breadth with a displacement of 7,400 tonnes and is propelled by four powerful gas turbines, in a Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) configuration, capable of achieving speeds in excess of 30 knots. The ship has enhanced stealth features resulting in a reduced Radar Cross Section (RCS) and is packed with sophisticated state-of-the-art weapons and sensors such as BrahMos Surface-to-Surface missiles and Barak-8 Surface-to-Air missiles.
Named after the historic city of Andhra Pradesh on the east coast, Visakhapatnam, the ‘City of Destiny’, the ship has a total complement of about 315 personnel, the Navy said in a statement. The ship will be under the command of Captain Birendra Singh Bains, a Navigation and Direction specialist.
“With the changing power dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region, INS Visakhapatnam will augment the Indian Navy’s mobility, reach and flexibility towards accomplishment of its tasks and goals,” the Navy added.
The contract for construction of four ships under Project-15B was signed in January 2011 at a project cost of about ₹29,643.74 crore. The final cost of the project is ₹35,000 crore. The remaining three ships — Mormugao, Imphal and Surat — are scheduled to be commissioned one per year from 2022 to 2024.