After years of delays and controversies, India’s first Scorpene submarine, which can carry 18 torpedoes and travel 1,020 kilometres underwater, was floated at the Mazagon Docks on Monday.
Built under a venture called Project 75, where the Indian Navy gets six submarines in collaboration with French firm DCNS, it will be the first underwater vessel that Mazagon Docks has built since May 28, 1994.
INS Shankul was the last submarine built by Mazagon Docks that was commissioned into the Indian Navy.
To be named after the first Indian submarine INS Kalvari, the Scorpene will start extensive harbour and sea trials from September. The testing is scheduled for almost a year, after which the submarine will be commissioned, said Navy officials.
Manohar Parrikar, Union defence minister, who was present on the occasion, said the target was to build a blue-water Navy, and urged Mazagon Docks to double its production in the next three years.
“We are to build a blue-water navy, and the role of Mazagon Docks cannot be underestimated. I want Mazagon to become a dockyard known not only in India but across the globe.”
Parrikar said Mazagon Docks should focus on skill development. “I know submarine development is not an easy task. It is a specialised task that we
need to continue, and we need to put in four times the effort we have put up till now,” said Parrikar.
He said the docks would face no dearth of orders, as after the six submarines are built under Project 75, the dockyard will be responsible for building more submarines under the P-75I venture.
The next five submarines will be rolled out from Mazgaon at intervals of nine months each, starting from September 2016.
“Once the first submarine is commissioned, our target is to roll out one submarine in every nine months,” said an officer of the Docks.
India has planned to equip the last two submarines of Project 75 with air independent propulsion (AIP) systems, designed and developed by DRDO.
The AIP system will enable the Scorpene submarine to stay underwater for 21 more days, in addition to the existing 50 days it can endure.
Submarines vital for a powerful Navy
A submarine is an underwater vessel capable of diving deep into the ocean. Submarines are potent weapons for any country aspiring to be a regional or a global power. A submarine can be a major threat to a hostile neighbour, as it presents a weapon platform against which there is no defence
What is the Indian Navy tasked to do
* The Indian Navy is required to undertake the onerous task of not only protecting the 7,500-km coastline, but also more than 1,200 islands and 2.2 million square kilometres of exclusive economic zones (parts of the ocean where India has jurisdiction over natural resources)
* The Indian Navy is tasked with controlling the Indian Ocean region, which contains one-third of the world’s population and 40% of the world’s oil and gas reserves
* The region assumes greater importance because of 70% of the world’s oil, 33% of global trade and 50% of the world’s container traffic passes through it
The Scorpene is part of the ambitious Project 75 of Indian Navy's submarine programme which will include six such vessels joining the fleet over the next few years. (Pratham Gokhale/HT photo)
Features of the Scorpene submarine
* The Scorpene attack submarine can carry 18 torpedoes and missiles or 30 mines. It is equipped with 21 torpedo tubes, providing salvo launch capability. India plans to arm the submarine with high-end MBDA SM-39 Exocet anti-ship missiles
* The submarine has a maximum diving depth of 300m, giving its commander great tactical freedom
* The sub can hold a company of 31 men It has two diesel generation sets providing 1,250kW of power
* The Scorpene can travel 1,020 kilometres underwater. It can travel 12,000 kilometres in the surfaced (above the water surface) mode
* The submarine can stay underwater for 50 days
* It combines better stealth and the ability to launch a crippling attack on the enemy using precision-guided weapons
* The attack can be launched with torpedoes as well as tube launched anti-ship missiles, whilst underwater or on surface
Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar interacts with Indian Navy personnel during the launch of the first indigenously-built Scorpene submarine at the Mazagaon Dockyard Ltd in Mumbai. (Pratham Gokhale/HT photo)
* It is equipped for a range of operations, such as anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying and area surveillance
* The Scorpene are built from special steel, capable of withstanding stress and with high tensile strength, which allow them to withstand water pressure and dive deeper into the ocean. This enhances their stealth abilities
* It is equipped with weapons-launching tubes (WLT) and can carry weapons on board that can be easily reloaded at sea
* The array of weapons and complex sensors fitted on board the scorpene are managed by a high-technology combat management system.
* From September 2015 to September 2016, the submarine will undergo a year-and-a-half of rigorous trials and tests, both harbor and at sea, while on surface and while underwater.
The Scorpene attack submarine can carry 18 torpedoes and missiles or 30 mines. It is equipped with 21 torpedo tubes, providing salvo launch capability. (Pratham Gokhale/HT photo)