India is on the verge of closing a deal with a South Korean shipyard to build 12 minesweeping ships locally, a project that is likely to cost more than Rs 32,000 crore.
The mine counter-measure vessels (MCMVs) will be built at Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) in collaboration with Korean yard Kangnam Corporation under the government’s Make in India programme.
Speaking exclusively to Hindustan Times, GSL chairman Rear Admiral Shekhar Mital (retd) said, “We are in the final stage of concluding the contract. It should be done in three to four weeks.”
The navy needs to fill gaps in its mine warfare capability. Its existing mine counter-measures force consists of six vessels bought from the erstwhile Soviet Union in the late 1970s. It requires 24 minesweepers. Mital said infrastructure was being scaled up swiftly at the shipyard to kick off the construction of the ships.
In December 2015, the defence ministry approved Rs 480 crore for infrastructure expansion to build MCMVs. Facilities are being created for construction of glass-reinforced plastic hulls. Such a design reduces the ship’s magnetic signature and allows for safer navigation through waters that may have been mined.
Mines are deployed to limit the enemy’s ability to use the sea. What makes these underwater weapons dangerous is that they can detonate on contact or be activated by magnetic and acoustic signatures.
The ships will use minehunting sonars to be supplied by French firm Thales, mine counter-measures combat management systems and sophisticated equipment to detonate a variety of mines.
Swedish firm Saab will be involved in the project, possibly providing remotely operated vehicle-based mine hunting solutions.
The ships are expected to have 60% indigenous content. Mital said the South Korean firm was selected for the project as it was the only yard that met the navy’s requirements. Italian shipbuilder Intermarine competed for the project, too.
The construction of the first vessel is expected to begin in April 2018, with deliveries being completed between April 2021 and April 2026.