INS Khanderi – Second Scorpene Class Submarine of Project 75 Launched In Mumbai
NationalDefence Bureau, New Delhi, 12 January 2016 India joined the exclusive group of submarine constructing nations on 07 February 1992, with the commissioning of the first Indian built submarine, INS Shalki. It was indeed a proud moment for Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd, who had built this submarine. Mazagon Dock then went on to commission another submarine, INS Shankul, on 28 May 1994. That these submarines are still in service today, after more than 20 years; is testimony to the skills and capability of Mazagon Dock.
The ongoing project for the series construction of six Scorpene submarines, has M/s DCNS of France, as Collaborator and includes Transfer of Technology, with M/s MDL as the Builder. It is pertinent to mention that series construction of six submarines makes the Scorpene Project one of the largest such projects globally.
The state-of-art features of the Scorpene include superior stealth and the ability to launch a crippling attack on the enemy using precision guided weapons. The attack can be launched with torpedoes, as well as tube launched anti-ship missiles, whilst underwater or on surface. The Stealth features will give it an invulnerability, unmatched by many submarines.
The Scorpene Submarine is designed to operate in all theatres including the Tropics. All means and communications are provided to ensure interoperability with other components of a Naval Task Force. It can undertake multifarious types of missions typically undertaken by any modern submarine i.e Anti-Surface warfare, Anti-Submarine warfare, Intelligence gathering, Mine Laying, Area Surveillance etc.
Built according to the principle of Modular Construction, which involves dividing the submarine into a number of sections and outfitting them concurrently. The equipment is mounted in a special manner and then embarked into the sections. The complexity of the task increases exponentially as it involves laying kilometres of cabling and piping in extremely congested compartments. Further, the stringent tolerances of the Scorpene required to be maintained were indeed a challenge, but were successfully achieved by MDL with traditional skill, determination and tenacity.
Status of Submarine
All equipment has been installed in the submarine, with 95% cabling and piping also being completed. Pressure testing, Setting-to-Work and commissioning of various systems of the submarine is presently in progress, and would continue after the launching of the submarine. It is pertinent to mention that the ‘all-important safety milestone of vacuum testing was completed in the first attempt itself, and within a single day (on 05 January 2017). This matched the record of ‘Kalvari’, which also completed the Vacuum Test in one shot, a feat unmatched in the annals of submarine construction. In this prestigious ToT project, MDL has absorbed all offered technology so far, mastering the various processes and challenges encountered enroute.
Between now and December 2017, the submarine will undergo rigorous trials and tests, both in harbor and at sea, while on surface and whilst dived. These trials are designed to test each system to its fullest capacity. Thereafter she would to be commissioned into the Indian Navy as INS Khanderi. This would be preceded by the commissioning of Kalvari later this year. The other four submarines will follow in the wake of Khanderi at intervals of nine months.
As is the tradition, ships and submarines of the Navy, are brought alive again after decommissioning. The first Khanderi was commissioned into the Indian Navy on 06 December 1968 and decommissioned on 18 October 1989 after more than 20 years of yeoman service to the nation. In true nautical traditions, she will now be re-incarnated, by Mazagon Dock, once again a powerful predator of the deep, guarding the vast maritime interests and areas of our nation.
The launching, and subsequent commissioning of Yard 11876 (Khanderi), not only marks a generational shift in technology, insofar as submarine construction in India is concerned, but also for submarine operations by the Indian Navy.
Modernisation and Enhancement of Infrastructure
Recent years have seen large investment in modernising the submarine construction facilities at MDL. The 3300 sqm Cradle Assembly Shop will enable the parallel outfitting of all cradles of the submarine, prior embarkation onboard the submarine. With the commissioning of the 5700 sqm New Stores building inside MDL, the myriad material, fittings and equipment required for each submarine can be co-located with the submarines under construction, within easy reach of the outfitting teams.
The setting up of a world class Composite Naval Submarine Crew Training facility, a 2,000 ton hydraulic press and a 100 bar High Pressure Test facility will enhance the capability of MDL to build quality submarines on time.
The new Kanhoji Angre Wet Basin enable additional berthing for three vessels, while the Module Shop with a retractable roof, and the towering 300 ton Goliath crane overhead has enabled the assembly of warship mega blocks, in a sheltered area, rather than in the scorching sun.
The jewel in the crown in the modernisation of MDL is the new Submarine Assembly shop, a sprawling 10,000 sqm facility, which in one go, will enable MDL to undertake concurrent construction of two submarine production lines, adding upto 12 submarines under various stages of construction at any given point of time.
Contribution to National Security and Nation Building
With its history of constructing the Leander and Godavari class Frigates, Khukri class Corvettes, Delhi and Kolkata class Destroyers, Shivalik class Stealth Frigates, 1241 RE Missile Boats and the Shalki class submarines, there is now no doubt that MDL has deservedly earned the soubriquet ‘Warship and Submarine Builders to the Nation.
Coming on the heels of the successful Deep Dive of the first Scorpene submarine (Kalvari) being built at MDL, the launching of Khanderi underlines the commitment of MDL towards the nations Make in India programme. It is this commitment to the nation which has made MDL a profit making Defence PSU.
MDLs contribution to national security and nation building will continue with the three P-15B class destroyers (the first two of which have already been launched), the P-17A class stealth frigates (the follow-on of the P-17 Stealth Frigates), and, of course, the balance four Scorpene submarines.
With mordernised and expanded infrastructure, a highly skilled work force and unmatched wealth of experience, MDL is ready to contribute to National Security by taking on future submarine projects.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 17 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.