An IDC Report from DEFEXPO 2002


New Delhi, 24 February 2002

A model of the submarine displayed at the DCN stall at Defexpo 2002

Dramatic things are finally happening for the submarine arm of the Indian Navy. The Project 75 cat is now out of the bag and the long drawn out negotiations with France have resulted in the media just confirming that DCN has bagged the 6 SCORPENE SUBMARINE DEAL for some $1.8 billion. These 6 underwater machines will be built at Mazagon Dock Ltd., which built the earlier and similar HDW boats.

The shipyard and the Navy are excited as media also reported India’s nuclear Akula 2 submarine is getting ready in Russia, with a skeleton crew already in Russia on the pretext of training for the ATV. This is the acronym for India’s nuclear boat being built by the DRDO with help from many agencies like Mazagon Dock, Larsen and Tubro, BHEL, Midhani, BEL and TATAs. News is also ripe that Larsen and Tubro have teamed up with the Russians and offered to build the AMUR class submarines at Hazira where they have excellent welding and reactor making facilities.

The Scorpene was designed to be capable of taking a small nuclear reactor and so in the long term the Scorpene is a good idea for the Indian Navy, which will need to replace its submarines in six years. This should have been done earlier but the HDW scandal derailed the Indian Navy’s ambitious plans to be self sufficient in submarines. DCN audited the HDW boat and came up with the Scorpene offer and IZAR of Italy is somewhat involved as the Scorpene is jointly built by DCN of France and Izar of Spain and each of the submarines are expected to cost around Rs. 15 billion ($320 million). India and the French-led consortium began negotiations for the Scorpene package some two years ago with New Delhi insisting on technology transfer to build the six submarines here. India was reportedly unhappy with DCN for the outright sale of one Augusta submarine PNS KHALID to arch enemy Pakistan and the transfer of technology for two more such vessels with AIP systems. Interestingly India and Pakistan in many cases like the Seakings, Mirages and British ships operate similar systems.

The history goes like this. On the basis of accumulated experience, the Spanish shipbuilder IZAR, which now includes Bazan decided in 1991 to take on its own third generation conventional submarine project that would be appropriate for the growing international market, sharing 50% of the risk with a foreign partner.  Izar chose the French company DCN to do so, and the latter was very keen on the idea given the decision by the French Navy to build only nuclear submarines like the US Navy. In 1992 both shipyards, based on their long experience of working together, commenced the definition phase of a medium-sized conventional attack vessel (some 1,500 tons). The vessel was to be versatile, technologically advanced, high quality, very discrete, with high eavesdropping capability and high fire power, in addition to being available at a reasonable price. Indian ship building team has chipped in its own inputs and called it the Type 75.

The result is the “Scorpene” which offers a size/performance/quality/price ratio superior to any of the company’s competitors in the international market, such as HDW, which is a bad word in India and Kockums and the Australians have had their problems. The outstanding aspect of its concept is its versatility, since it can integrate absolutely any equipment or technology solution, in either the platform or the weapon system that he Indian Navy has specified which may be looking at the Brahmos PJ 10. Chosen by the Chilean Navy in 1998, two units are currently under construction in Spain. The “O Higgins” is due to be commissioned in 2004 and the “Carrera” in 2006, the contractually agreed calendar being scrupulously adhered to and the module building philosophy is the same that the Indian ATV project is following.

These vessels are built in four blocks, two of them by Izar in Cartagena and the other two by DCN in Cherbourg. The two built in France are the bow (torpedo chamber/bow battery chamber, control room and quarters). The Spanish build the stern (tail cone with propulsion, engine room/stern battery chamber). In the first vessel the Spanish blocks will be taken to Cherbourg where they will be assembled. The weapon system will be integrated and tested there, as will subsequent sea trials. In the case of the second it will be the reverse, the DCN blocks will be taken to Cartagena where the rest of the operation will be carried out. The Scorpene can be described as a submarine of new design that incorporates the latest advances and trends in conceptualisation and technology, but based on the principle of low cost in both the project and construction phases (through the modular system) and of operation (reduced complement and maintenance).

The vessel is appropriate for oceanic missions (50 mission days at 2,000 miles from its base), especially anti-submarine and anti-surface ship operations. The platform has a resistant hull and hydrodynamic deck with optimised teardrop shape, entirely built of especially high elasticity steel. This ensures greater operating depths. It also offers excellent speed/range, high firepower and a reduced acoustic signature with noteworthy stealth levels.

The “Scorpene’s” most notable characteristics are a total length of 61.7 metres, diameter of 6.2 surface displacement of 1.425 tons (1,565 submerged) 0.4 metre submerged stability module and more than 0.25 on the surface, and steel hull with HIES high elastic limit of over 700-Mpa. Among its performance characteristics, outstanding is the maximum operating depth (without limit to he number of cycles) greater than 300 metres, maximum submerge speed of more than 20 knots, submerged range at 100% battery usage and speed 4 knots of 134 hours/536 miles. The “Scorpene” was carefully conceived bearing habitation in mind. Its complement of 32 with the possibility of quartering six more in stowed berths as IN has more domestic crew are in one cabin for the captain, one for 5/6 officers, two for 5/6 petty officers, and one for 15 ordinary seamen. It has individual berths and lockers for everyone, 2WC, 2 showers, 4 washbasins, and three messes. The quarters area is acoustically insulated from the platform on elastic insulators and there is air conditioning in all quarters and operations areas. The “Scorpene” can operate with DSRV rescue vehicles, which the Indian Navy is hunting for.

Propulsion on the CM-2000 version of the Scorpene is carried out using a Jeumont Schneider 2,900 kW electronic engine, with fixed pitch seven blade propeller, air/water cooling and power supply from four Izar/MTU 396 12V SE 84, de 632 kW,diesel-generators at 1,700rpm, or 360 high capacity lead battery elements with tubular boards, electrolyte agitation and water-circuit junction cooling. All propulsion elements and auxiliary equipment-in two independent chambers-are mounted on elastic plus with an elastically suspended structure dry snorkel system.

Equally, the “Scorpene AM –2000 ”has been designed with an anaerobic propulsion system (AIP) MESSMA (“Autonomous Underwater Energy Module”) produced jointly by Izar and DCN, with a steam turbine that uses ethanol with liquid oxygen as its fuel in a specific chamber. The system represents a technological innovation because of its easy and safe installation and handling since it feeds from a conventional steam installation. Indian Navy has been good with Steam turbines. The system, with no depth limitations to its use, is outstanding for being very quiet The AM-2000 version trebles the “-Scorpene’s” submerged patrol time. The vessel keeps all the other exceptional operating characteristics. Its total length increases to 70metres and its submerged displacement is 1,870m.

As far as control and surveillance of the platform’s elements and handling are concerned, all the operations in any situation are centralized in the control room under the tower. The “Scorpene” manoeuvres using two prolonged rudders, in the upper and lower part of the hull, and four hydroplanes, two aft in the bow keel cross and two in the topsail. Their shapes have been studied in order to optimise maneuverability, safety and stability during high-speed operations.

The torpedo chamber in the bow allows 12 long torpedoes to be stored in the shock-resistant structure. The vessel has tubes for the standard six 533 mm torpedo launch tubes, fired by turbo-chargers with automatic handling and feed system and capable of burst firing. The tubes are fitted in the form of two bows, one on each side. In the case of the units built for Chile, the space between tubes enables stowage of a box of anchor chains so that these submarines will be bale to install an anchor to operate in ports with few mooring facilities.

The weapon system is what the Navy has chosen and the distributed architecture design can be integrated by redundant and re-configurable local area networks and could incorporate the Brahmos in a container displayed at DEFEXPO 2002.  The “Scorpene”is a submarine especially designed to have a large eavesdropping capacity. Its electronic sensors include a passive long-range cylindrical sonar, interception sonar, active sonar, distributed sonar, flank antennae, high resolution sonar for detecting mines and obstacles and towed lineal antenna. It has navigation and exploration radar and a Calzoni attack periscope for SMS observation and the older HDW boats may change to these Periscopes as Kollmorgon of USA had suspended support.

The use of high elasticity steels such as H80 and HY80 that require pre-heating to 120o prior to welding, gives an idea of the complexity of manufacturing these platforms. The operation is carried out using ceramic resistor stacks controlled by special computer equipment, which at the same time regulates the quality of the welding. The welding is carried out by highly qualified professionals, with special physical aptitudes given the extreme difficulty of the operation and the Mazagon Docks has experience of this.

The Indian Navy is celebrating and in time Larsen and Tubro may build the Amurs and change the whole philosophy of defence ship building in India.

IDC complements the planners and wishes them speedy implementation and we see IZAR coming in stronger and the IN can learn a lot while Indian industry also gains.

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