An IDC Analysis


New Delhi, 30 November 2005

On the eve of Navy Week 2005, we present an update on the Indian Navy. Navy Week is celebrated each year starting from 01 Dec, with Navy Day falling on 04 Dec, the day the IN missile boats successfully attacked Karachi harbour in the 1971 War.

Senior Appointments

Vice Admiral Venkat Bharathan the Chief of Personnel, an aviator who served as the Naval Attache in Washington DC and commanded the Western Fleet took over as the Vice Chief of Naval Staff on 01 November and S Kaushiva and N K Verma were promoted Vice Admirals, the former as Commandant of the Naval Academy.

Naval Academy

The Indian Navy’s new Academy is coming up fast at Ezhimala on the west coast. The Navy took great pains to design an ultra modern and sophisticated Academy, to house over 450 trainees of all ranks and with a sanctioned staff of 1900. It has planned for what it sees in the future, a very large Navy commensurate with the size and population of the country, and with the ability to train naval personnel of friendly countries too. All its earlier academies for officer training were make shift arrangements in Kochi and then INS Mandovi at Goa.


The Indian Navy has matured to undertake round-the-world sail training cruises. INS Tarangini, Indian Navy's Sail Training Ship, repaired to Kochi on 8th Nov after a six and half month cruise to Europe. The ship had set sail from Kochi on 21st Apr 05 to participate in the Tall ship races in Europe and called at 16 ports in 13 counties during its voyage with 185 cadets embarked on various legs of the trip. Tarangini participated in the races from Waterford to Cherbourg and from Newcastle to Fredrikstad and also in exhibition races at Bremerhaven and Amsterdam. Other than the tall ships’ races, Tarangini participated in the International Fleet Review at Portsmouth and City Parades during the Sea Festivals at Waterford, Cherbourg and Newcastle, winning the 'Smartest Crew Trophy' at Newcastle. Tarangini also participated in the Tall Ships event 'Mediterranceo e Velieri' at Cagliari, Italy. Vice Admiral Suresh Bangara, C in C South, who heads the Training Command flew to Italy to call on the Naval brass at their Parioli HQ in Rome, met with Italian defence industry and then proceeded to visit INS Tarangini in Sardinia. Relations between the Indian and Italian Navies have warmed after the consultancy contract was awarded for the 37,500 ton Air Defence Ship to Fincanteiri, while Alenia will provide the Oto Melara 76mm guns and Finmeccanica has a good presence in India. WAAS are collaborating with Bharat Dynamics Ltd to manufacture torpedoes in India. The Italian Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sergio Biraghi is due to visit India in November as a guest of the CNS Admiral Arun Prakash and the WAAS torpedo Black Shark is one of the choices in contention for the Type 75 Scorpene submarine.

Navy Day, 04 December

There is visible pride among the Indian Navy’s ranks for what it had achieved in the year gone by, and what it sees as its ambitious expansion plans for the future. Twenty-one ships were on order and others like the LPD USS Trenton, were likely to be inducted from abroad. A repeat order for three Krivacks of the Talwar class from Russia was also on the table. The Navy looks forward to celebrate Navy Day on 4th December and play host on a high note to the President, Prime Minister and dignitaries at an ‘At Home’ at the residence of the Chief of Naval Staff in Delhi, 12 Rajaji Marg (known as King George Avenue in the old days). There is no doubt that after the Chinese, Japanese and possibly the Spanish Navy the Indian Navy’s expansion plans are the most impressive as one of the fastest growing Navies in the world. During the Commander’s Conference, held from 23rd October, the Government publicly lauded the Indian Navy for its achievements in Tsunami relief work, efforts at indigenisation. The Prime Minister and Defence Minister had assured that the government would provide long-term funding. ''Mindful of the long gestation period naval projects take, the government will ensure that the Navy is provided with long term funding support from the Ministry of Defence for a sustained growth over the plan periods, '' were the words of the Defence Minister and speaking specifically about the role of the Navy, Dr. Manmohan Singh had said that India had a vital stake in the security of the sea lanes to the east and west. "The Indian Navy, therefore, must expand its capability to protect these sea lanes. We must ensure workable alliances with like-minded countries for the security of these sea lanes, for our commercial and energy security”. This was music to naval ears, which at 16% had the lowest share of the Defence budget.

Navy –– The Technology Leader

All three service HQs recently joined hands with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (IIT-K), to design advanced encryption algorithms for strategic communications systems and data links used by block cipher systems, the Navy being the first off the mark. This follows IIT-K’s successful development of the Trinetra (third eye) encryption security standard for the Navy that allows warships to exchange voice, data and imagery with each other as well as with facilities on shore in a secure environment. The Navy is also equipping its three existing Project 15 Delhi-class guided-missile destroyers with on-board control/imagery interpretation stations required for undertaking round-the-clock maritime surveillance operations over the high seas with shore-launched IAI/Malat-built Heron II medium-altitude high-endurance UAVs. The UAV control stations are even transferred on board the Leander class ships like INS Vindhyagiri and have proved successful in operations. The Navy is raising three squadrons for dedicated UAV operations, while Israel announced that the Armed Forces were buying 50 more Herons worth $ 250 m.

Strategic Sealift Capability

To achieve strategic sealift capability the Navy was acquiring a follow-on batch of two plus one large landing ship tanks (LST-L) that were ordered in December 2001. The first of these INS Shardul built by state-owned, Garden Reach Shipbuilding & Engineers Ltd (GRSE) at Kolkata, was launched in April 2004, while the second, INS Kesari was launched on 8 June this year. Each LST is 124. 8m long 17. 5m-wide, displaces 5,600 tonnes, and has a cruising speed of 15. 8 knots. Each of them can carry 11 main battle tanks, 10 motorised vehicles and up to 500 soldiers. Naval Headquarters was also looking forward to the purchase of ex-US Navy landing platform dock (LPD), the 16,900 dwt USS Trenton, at an estimated cost of US$46 million. Prior to its delivery, the LPD would be refurbished and upgraded to guarantee 15 years of seaworthy life. This LPD will serve as an amphibious transport-cum-cargo ship, and its flight deck can opearate helicopters while its well deck can be ballasted and deballasted to support the ingress and egress of hovercraft like the GRSE-assembled Griffon 8000TD(M). The Navy was also weighing the merits of procuring four preowned USN Osprey-class GRP-hulled ocean-going minesweepers, built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, for clearing coastal and ocean waters, shore areas, and harbours of pressure/contact, acoustic, and magnetic mines.

Brahmos Missile Makes Progress

Good progress had been made on the installation of the naval version of the Brahmos missile on board the five Kashins now based at Visakhapatnam. INS Rajput was fitted out with four Brahmos missiles, leaving four P20 missiles in the other launch containers on the bow deck. In a revolutionary engineering feat the INS Ranvir was currently being fitted out with 8 vertically launched Brahmos missiles in the mid section of the ship by removing the aft Volna RZ 31 SAM system, since the two aft AK 630 30mm guns had been replaced by a Barak Missile system for close air defence. INS Ranvijay will be the next ship when it comes in for its mid life refit making these ships very potent missile platforms with a sea and land reach of 300km with multiple choices of homing heads including scene recognition for land attack, it was claimed. The models of these modifications on the Kashins and the 16 VLS Brahmos nestle for the F 15A under construction at Mazagon Docks Ltd, were displayed prominently at the DEFENCE 2005 exposition held a the modern IMPACT exhibition complex at Bankgok, from 2nd to 5th November. The complicated engineering for the vertical launch nestles is being undertaken by the Indian engineering giant Larsen and Tubro, which had developed and often displayed their universal launcher for the three services. Rear Admiral S D Gupta who was DG Naval Design, had on retirement joined BrahMos Aerospace to oversee the projects. The affable Dr Sivathanu Pillai the CEO of BrahMos Aerospace Ltd, with his professional team which included many retired naval officers was at hand at the show, to explain the technical characteristics of the missile with very impressive video clippings of the successful firings which included the successful sinking of two Petya class decommissioned ships.

Brahmos Export To Thailand And Chile

The Thai Navy had made inquires and was looking to import the Brahmos missile and was a potential customer. On 03 October a high-powered delegation led by Lt Gen Nguyen Thinh, Head of Vietnam’s Defence Research Centre, on a visit to India was believed to have made a formal request for details for procuring a limited number of surface-to-surface missiles like the Prithvi SS-250 and BrahMos. In June this year the IN supplied a large consignment of much-needed spares for the Viet Nam Navy’s Osa II-class missile gunboats. The spares consignment comprised 900 boxes weighing 150 tonnes.

The Commander in Chief of the Chilean Navy Admiral Rudolfo Codina arrived in New Delhi for a week long visit on 06 November and his visit came ahead of the visit by India’s Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Chile in end October, with a large team that included Dr Sivathanu Pillai the head of BrahMos. The purpose of the Defence Minster’s visit was to push sales of HAL built 30 ALH Dhruv helicopters and other hardware including the BrahMos missile on Chile’s invitation. Defence Minister Jaime Ravinet had visited India earlier this year.

The previous reported defence deal that India struck with Chile in the early 1980s was when the IAF acquired a few thousand CB-500 cluster bombs from CARDOEN Metalnor Industries for its Jaguar IS and MiG-23BN/MiG-27M combat aircraft. This Chilean company later concluded technology transfer agreements with India's OFB, with Iraq and with DENEL of South Africa to undertake local manufacture of such cluster bombs. The Indian Navy went in for the BL-755 cluster bombs from the then Hunting Engineering of UK. However defence export cooperation between India and Russia, experienced a minor hitch when Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov on a visit to India to witness the naval and army Exercise Indira 05 in mid October, insisted on an intellectual property rights (IPR) agreement to be concluded, before any exports could be contemplated by India and warned that source codes would not be provided. Ivanov said the two countries had outstripped the old, client-provider relationship on the weapons front after they jointly developed the sophisticated BrahMos cruise missile, which was believed to be comparable to the US Tomahawk cruise missile in some of its capabilities and outstrips the Harpoon.

Mauritius–India Naval Cooperation

Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam accompanied by a 13 member delegation to India, stopped over in Kochi and visited the Southern Naval Command on 27th October. He announced that Mauritius was set to purchase an indigenously developed Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv and an offshore Patrol vessel from India for its large Exclusive Economic Zone. He also visited INS Sharda, an offshore Patrol vessel. The Mauritius Coast Guard had earlier acquired two vessels from India. Currently the Seaward Defence Boat T61 christened ‘Guardian”, under the command of an IN officer, was undergoing a refit in the Naval Dockyard. India would also assist Mauritius in hydrographic survey of her ports, islands and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect was signed between Rear Admiral B R Rao, Chief Hydrographer to the Government of India and Mr S C Seeballuck, Secretary Home Affairs in the Mauritian Prime Minister's Office. To begin with, one of the 8 survey ships of the Indian Navy would be deployed in an area, to be identified by the Mauritius Government, in January next year. A committee, with representatives from both sides, will be set up to work out future requirements

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