The sixth and last of the French Scorpène-class submarines, Vagsheer, was launched into water at the Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) in Mumbai.
“The sixth submarine will now commence setting to work of various equipment and their harbour trials. The crew will thereafter sail the submarine for the rigorous sea acceptance trials after which the submarine would be delivered to the Navy by late next year,” the Navy said in a statement.
Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar was the chief guest at the ceremony and Vagsheer was launched by Mrs. Veena Ajay Kumar, in keeping with the naval tradition of launch and naming by a lady.
The six submarines were being built under Project-75 by the MDL under technology transfer from the Naval Group under a $3.75 bn deal signed in October 2005. The first one,INS Kalvari, was commissioned in December 2017; the second, INS Khanderi, in September 2019; the third, INS Karanj, in March 2021; and the fourth one, INS Vela, joined service last November. The 5th one, Vagir, was launched in November 2020 and is undergoing sea trials.
The Navy has drawn up plans to install an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) module on all the Scorpenes as they go for refit, beginning with INS Kalvari, in the next couple of years to enhance their endurance. Development of an indigenous AIP module by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is in advanced stages.
30-year submarine-building programme
Parallelly, the tender to build six more advanced conventional submarines under Project-75I is in the Request For Proposal (RFP) stage. The Navy has a 30-year submarine-building programme and after the P-75I, it intends to design and build conventional submarines indigenously.
With delays in submarine induction, the SSKs - 209s (German HDWs) and EKMs (Russian Kilos), are being put through the Medium Refit Life Certification (MRLC) process, which will give them additional life of 10 to 15 years.
The Navy currently has 16 conventional submarines- eight Russian Kilos, four German HDWs and four Scorpenes, and indigenous nuclear ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant in service.