INS Shardul, the newest Indian Navy warship equipped with latest electronic warfare systems, will be commissioned into service on Thursday at the Karwar naval base in coastal Karnataka by Defence Minister AK Antony.
The auxiliary warship, built by Garden Reach Ship builders and Engineers Ltd, Kolkata, is capable of carrying 11 armoured tanks, 10 army vehicles and about 500 troop, helicopters, two rocket launchers, two anti-aircraft guns and shoulder launcher surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), besides the crew.
According to naval sources, Shardul, named after an amphibious animal, stands for the Royal Bengal Tiger, symbolising agility, strength and valour, the characteristic features of an amphibious operation. It will be based at Karwar, about 500 km from Bangalore.
"The warship is equipped with the latest advanced electronic warfare systems and automatic power management system. As the third landing ship tank of the Navy, Shardul is the first of a new class, capable of transporting various kinds of combat equipment," a naval spokesman said in Bangalore.
The ship is also capable of operating Seaking 42C and Dhruv advanced light helicopter (ALH), besides launching /recovery of marine commandos through sea and by copters for vertical envelopment.
"The ship is designed to support build up of men and material after the main landing. As a hospital ship with facilities in containerised form and as a fleet tanker for limited exercise," the spokesman said.
The modern version of Shardul replaced the earlier ship that was commissioned way back in 1975 at Gdynia (Poland) by then Indian ambassador in Poland D S Kametkar. In 1993, its base port was shifted to Visakhapatnam from Port Blair and joined the fourth landing squadron under the eastern fleet. It was decommissioned in June 1997.
"Amphibious operations are by far the most complex of all military operations in view of the dexterous planning involved and the requirement of coordination between the diverse units -- sea, land and air," the official pointed out.
As an amphibious vessel, Shardul can be configured and deployed to operate at various levels of conflict and in multiple theatres on account of its large accommodation and storage space. With a lift capability of 750 tonnes, it can operate even in shallow waters and is capable of beaching.
"The ship is capable of performing a wide range of missions from providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to peace-keeping operations and major combat operations," the official added.