Monday, April 30, 2018

Indian Navy Resumes Quest To Acquire 3 Advanced Cadet Training Ship

This search follows cancellation of earlier contract awarded to the ABG Shipyard to build them.
The Indian Navy is the operator of a fleet of some highly advanced & contemporary warships, an upward trend that will grow in the future. With its plans to induct more than 40 Naval platforms - Submarines & Surface Vessels, currently under construction, & aim of becoming a 200 Warship strength Navy, from its current count of 145, by 2027, the need to develop a core of highly skilled manpower, trained to handle these futuristic systems, acquire critical significance. The other maritime agency, the Coast Guard has its own, separate expansion plans.
Cadet Training Ship - Indian Navy - ABG Shipyard - 01
A few days back, it issued a Request For Information [RFI] notice, seeking response from Indian Shipbuilders "FOR CONSTRUCTION OF THREE CADET TRAINING SHIPS (CTS) FOR INDIAN NAVY". The eventual contract winner would have to build ships that,
"should be capable of providing basic sea training to naval cadets and also carry out the role of hospital ship, HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief), Non-Combatant Evacuation Ops (NEO) and Search and Rescue (SAR) in its secondary role".
As part of the requirement, the 4000 MT weight class of Ship, built to the latest, energy-efficient, Green standards, with a focus on ergonomics & crew comfort, would accommodate around 407 people onboard, enduring 2 months of at-sea mission.
A look through the RFI indicates that the Navy would like the CTS to be built, to the maximum possible extent, using sub-systems either developed indigenously or license manufactured in the country. Armament on the twin-Diesel Engine driven warship would include the 76/62 Super Rapid Gun Mount & AK 630 Naval Gatling Gun for training & offensive operation, interfaced with the Lynx U2 Fire Control System, with an Electro Optical Infrared Search & Tracking [EOIRST] providing Targeting Data.
78-62 Super Rapid Gun Mount - SRGM - Indian Navy - 01
For aerial operations, such as casualty evacuation, Search & Rescue etc., the Ship would be able to house two 15 MT weight class of Helicopters, with the option to operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft [details unknown] off them also available.
This recent RFI is a result of the insolvency proceedings underway at the ABG Shipyard, that the Navy had, originally, contracted to build, in 2011. The Navy, currently, has only a single comparable CTS, the INS Tir, commissioned in 1986. To meet increasing demands, therefore, it has had to divert its combat warship, assigning them for training purposes - amphibious Ship INS Shardul & INS Magar, patrol vessel INS Sujata, along with Coast Guard’s Offshore Patrol Vessel Sarathi. Using them as initial training vessels take them out of its primary operational role. Goes without saying, platforms are best utilised for the purpose it was designed for. As unglamorous as the role of a Training Ship may be, compared to, say, an Aircraft Carrier or a Destroyer, it plays a role of paramount importance in developing the seafaring skills of Navy personnel.
Once Officers & Sailors become proficient in practical fundamentals of seamanship, depending on future deputations, they learn the skills of the specific warship, they are deputed to, based on the foundational knowledge of their experience onboard the CTS.
INS Tir - A86 - Cadet Training Ship - Indian Navy -01
A fine opportunity for Indian Shipbuilders, in general, to display their skills in Defence Production. If built by a private shipbuilder, as was the original plan, it would also be the largest privately-built warship in India. The biggest it has built, so far, is the 2.14 MT Offshore Patrol Vessel that L&T recently handed over to the Indian Coast Guard, the ICGS Vikram. Indian Shipbuilders find the goings tough, competing against the cash-laden Government-owned ones. The government, on its part, having taken cognizance of this, has initiated programmes, restricted to participation by private sectors only. While the sustainability of such an arrangement could be debated, in the short-term, it gives all the parties a share of the gargantuan pie, called Indian defence acquisition.
AK-630 - Naval Close-In Gatling Gun - INS Satpura - Indian Navy - 01
On the topic of the CTS, this RFI makes no such restriction on participation. Overall, this acquisition would serve to be an important cog in the wheel of the Navy’s scheme of things. It needs to materialise in double quick time though.