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'India's submarine strength waning'

india Updated: Nov 05, 2006 13:36 IST
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The navy's "shrinking" submarine fleet is a matter of concern, new naval chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta has said.

A plan has already been put in place to raise the strength of the submarine arm, he said.

"Our (submarine) levels are certainly shrinking and it's a cause for concern," Mehta, who took over as chief on November 1, said.

"We haven't built a submarine for over 14-15 years now. As ships and submarines get older, they need to be phased out," he said.

"We expect to set the situation right. The ball has already been set rolling," he said.

Mehta said, "The first of these (new submarines) will start coming out in eight-nine years and then simultaneously, hopefully we should get some more in the pipeline so that we are able to stablise the situation in 15 years or so."

Explaining the reasons behind the delay in building up the fleet strength, he said, "Navies take very long to build (warships) and it's a continuous process that must be kept going always.

"If we didn't order some ships at some point of time, we land up in trouble some years down the road. The same is the case with submarines."

India recently inked a deal to build six Scorpene submarines using technology supplied by a French firm.

On future focus areas, Mehta said, "We have put (in place) a perspective plan for the next 20 years." This plan would automatically ensure replacement of ships that are ageing.

Mehta said the Indian Navy would add eight destroyers, eight frigates, a dozen corvettes, six submarinexs and an aircraft carrier to its fleet in the years ahead.

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