CURTAIN RAISER COMMISSIONING OF Y – 12706 (IMPHAL)
Report: Shailesh Kumar, National Defence
New Delhi, 24 December 2023
The Indian Navy is all set to commission its latest Stealth Guided Missile Destroyer Imphal at Naval Dockyard, Mumbai on 26 December 2023 in the presence of the Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh as the Chief Guest. The event marks the formal induction into the Navy of the third of four ‘Visakhapatnam’ class destroyers, indigenously designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house organisation, Warship Design Bureau and constructed by Mazagon Dock Limited, Mumbai. Notably, Imphal is the first warship to have been named after a city from the North East, the approval for which was accorded by the President on 16 April 2019, thus underlining the importance of the region for national security, sovereignty and prosperity.
Imphal was delivered to the Indian Navy on 20 October 2023 after completing a rigorous and comprehensive trial programme both in the harbour and at sea.
Subsequently, the ship successfully test-fired the extended-range supersonic BrahMos missile in November 2023, a first for any indigenous warship before commissioning, thus demonstrating the Navy’s thrust on combat effectiveness and confidence in its cutting-edge indigenous weapons and platforms.
Following this milestone achievement, the ship’s crest was unveiled by the Defence Minister at New Delhi on 28 November 2023, in the presence of the Chief Minister of Manipur and other senior dignitaries. Upon commissioning, Imphal will join the Western Naval Command.
A significant addition to the naval fleet, Imphal is a state-of-the-art warship, designed by the Indian Navy’s Warship Design Bureau and built by M/s MDL, with significant contributions from the public and private sectors, including MSMEs, and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Project 15B (Visakhapatnam class) is the latest in the lineage of Project 15A (Kolkata class) and Project 15 (Delhi class) indigenous destroyers with upgraded capabilities and greater indigenous content. Measuring 163 metres in length, displacing 7,400 tons and with 75% indigenous content, Imphal can rightfully be regarded as one of the most potent warships to have been constructed in India. A testament to India’s growing shipbuilding prowess in pursuit of the national vision of ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’. Imphal is also a true harbinger of a developed India, in tune with the national vision for ‘Amrit Kaal’.
A formidable moving fortress at sea, Imphal is capable of achieving speeds in excess of 30 knots and is packed with sophisticated ‘state of the art’ weapons and sensors such as Surface to Surface Missile and Surface to Air Missiles. The ship is fitted with a modern Surveillance Radar which provides target data to the gunnery weapon systems of the ship. The ship’s Anti-Submarine Warfare capabilities are provided by the indigenously developed Rocket Launchers, Torpedo Launchers and ASW helicopters. The ship is equipped to fight under Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare conditions and has a high degree of automation and stealth features further enhancing her combat capability and survivability.
Some of the major indigenised equipment/system onboard Imphal include Indigenous Medium Range Surface to Air Missiles, Surface to Surface Missiles, Torpedo Tubes, Anti-Submarine Rocket Launchers, Super Rapid Gun Mount, besides Combat Management System, Integrated Platform Management System, Automated Power Management System, Foldable Hangar Doors, Helo Traversing system, Close-in Weapon System and Bow mounted SONAR. Major OEMs, as well as MSMEs such as BEL, L&T, Godrej, Marine Electrical, BrahMos, Technico, Kineco, Jeet & Jeet, Sushma Marine, Techno Process, etc., have all contributed to making of the mighty Imphal.
The time taken to build Imphal and for her trials is the shortest for any indigenous destroyer. Imphal’s keel was laid on 19 May 2017 and the ship was launched into water on 20 April 2019. Imphal sailed out for her maiden sea trials on 28 April 2023 and has completed a comprehensive schedule of trials, both in the harbour and at sea, leading up to its Delivery on 20 October 2023, within a record time frame of six months – the fastest for a ship of its size.
Imphal will have the unique distinction of being the largest and the most advanced destroyer to be ever named after a city from the North-east. This is a befitting tribute to Manipur’s sacrifices and contributions in India’s freedom struggle, be it the Anglo-Manipur War of 1891; or Netaji Subash Chandra Bose’s hoisting of the INA flag for the first time on14 April 1944 at Moirang; or the pitched Battle of Imphal between British and Imperial Japanese forces, with Indians on both sides, that turned the tide of the Burma campaign and shaped the outcome of the Second World War and the new world order. The commissioning of Imphal, thus, underscores the salience and contribution of the city of Imphal, the state of Manipur and the larger North-eastern region to national security, sovereignty and prosperity.