South Korean yard again offers to build minesweepers in India
The government issued an expression of interest on March 21 after earlier negotiations with Busan-based Kangnam to build 12 mine-countermeasure vessels at the state-owned Goa Shipyard Ltd collapsed at the final stage.india Updated: Apr 24, 2018 21:41 IST
South Korean company Kangnam Corporation has responded to India’s expression of interest to build minesweepers in the country under a Rs 32,640 crore programme, a senior government official said on Tuesday, after an earlier deal failed on the grounds of high costs.
The government issued an expression of interest on March 21 after earlier negotiations with Busan-based Kangnam to build 12 mine-countermeasure vessels (MCMVs) at the state-owned Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) collapsed at the final stage.
“Kangnam has responded to the EoI and we are expecting Italian yard Intermarine and maybe a few more shipbuilders to respond,” said GSL chairman Rear Admiral (retd) Shekhar Mital.
Foreign shipbuilders can respond to the expression of interest by May 10.
This is India’s third attempt in a decade to strengthen its navy’s mine warfare capabilities. Navies deploy minesweepers to secure harbours by locating and destroying mines.
As reported by the Hindustan Times on January 8, talks with Kangnam failed the last time as the two sides were unable to resolve commercial complications. Kangnam had competed with Intermarine for the project.
The government scrapped a deal in 2014 to build minesweepers in India in partnership with Kangnam, amid allegations that the South Korean firm had hired middlemen to swing things in its favour.
The navy’s present mine counter-measure force consists of six vessels bought from the erstwhile Soviet Union in the late 1970s. It requires at least 24 minesweepers to secure major harbours in the country, navy officials said.
The scenario is likely to worsen in the coming years as the existing minesweeper fleet is on its way to be decommissioned this year.
The navy would be without a single minesweeper till 2021, warned a March 2017 parliamentary report on the alarming decline in naval force levels. With the programme being delayed further, the navy is likely to be without minesweepers even beyond 2021.
The construction of the first vessel was supposed to begin in April 2018 and deliveries of all the 12 minesweepers were to be completed between 2021 and 2026.
GSL has spent hundreds of crores on creating an infrastructure to kick off construction of the vessels, which are expected to have 60% indigenous content.
Facilities have been created for building glass-reinforced plastic hulls, a design that reduces the ship’s magnetic signature and allows safer navigation through waters that are mined. These underwater weapons can detonate on contact, or be activated by magnetic and acoustic signatures.