The fourth Scorpene class conventional submarine, INS Vela , was commissioned into the Navy in the presence of Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh at a ceremony in Mumbai on Thursday.
“Vela has taken the ‘Make in India’ spirit a notch higher with the fitment indigenised battery cells, which power a very silent permanently magnetised propulsion motor,” the Navy said in a statement.
Construction of the submarine commenced with the first cutting of steel on July 14, 2009 and it was launched and named Vela on May 6, 2019.
With this, the Navy currently has 16 conventional and one nuclear submarine in service. It includes eight Russian Kilo class submarines, four German HDW submarines, four French Scorpene submarines and the indigenous nuclear ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant .
Vela , being named after a type of Indian fish belonging to the stingray family, the crest depicts the fish swimming across the blue seas. The submarine’s mascot is the Sub-ray which is an amalgamation of the submarine and the stingray which symbolises the metamorphosis of the submarine’s character with the qualities of a stingray, the Navy said.
The new INS Vela carries forward the legacy of its namesake, the erstwhile Vela which was commissioned on August 31, 1973 as the lead boat of Vela class submarines and was decommissioned on January 25, 2010.
Six Scorpene submarines are being built under Project-75 by Mazgaon Dock Limited (MDL), Mumbai, under technology transfer from Naval Group of France under a $3.75 bn deal signed in October 2005.
The first submarine INS Kalvari was commissioned in December 2017, second submarine INS Khanderi in September 2019 and third one INS Karanj in March 2021. The fifth submarine, Vagir , was launched in November 2020 and is undergoing sea trails while the sixth one Vagsheer is in advanced stage of outfitting.
The Navy has drawn up plans to install Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) modules on all Scorpene submarines as they go for their refit beginning with INS Kulvari in 2023 to enhance their endurance. That hinges on the successful fitment of the indigenous AIP module developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation on board a submarine. The land-based prototype has recently undergone successful trials.
Parallely, the Navy recently issued the Request For Proposal for procurement of six advanced submarines under Project-75I.
The Navy has a 30-year submarine building programme and after the P-75I the Navy intends to design and build conventional submarines indigenously. “This is going to be maybe the last time (P-75I) that we will take any outside assistance; henceforth we will design and build our own submarines,” Navy Chief Adm Singh told The Hindu recently.
With delays in submarine induction, the SSKs-209s (German HDWs) and EKMs (Russian Kilo’s) are being put through the Medium Refit Life Certification process which will give them additional life of 10 to 15 years.