Guided Missile Destroyer INS Mormugao Launched by Indian Navy
Adds “more teeth” to the Navy
NEW DELHI. Cheers and claps filled the air as the 7,300-tonne INS Mormugao cruised into the Arabian Sea for the first time September 17 in Mumbai adding to the strength of the Indian Navy.
Designed indigenously by the Directorate of Naval Design and built by government- run Mazgaon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL), it belongs to Visakhapatnam class of ships being constructed under Project 15B. The adorned ship was launched by President of Navy Wives Welfare Association (NWWA) Reena Lanba, wife of Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of Naval Staff at the launch function at MDL.
Speaking at the event, Admiral Lanba praised the ship saying, “This ship serves the Make in India drive of the country as it is indigenously built. It secures the sea in a better way. Contract for this ship was signed in January 2011. It can be compared with best ships in the world and has been developed by our own designers at DRDO as well as other government agencies and private companies”.
INS Mormugao is designed to accommodate 50 officers and 250 sailors. Powered by Ukrainian gas turbine engines, it has a maximum speed of over 30 knots ( 56 km/ hr approx) and is yet to undergo certain tests by the Indian Navy. It is the second warship under Project 15B. First being INS Visakhapatnam whose keel was laid in October 2013 and launched April 20, 2015. Ships under this class are contemporary missile destroyers armed with state of art weapons package in extension of the family of Kolkata and Delhi Class ships.
Equipped with surface-to-surface missiles, anti- submarine launchers, multi mission radar for surveillance along with medium range air/surface surveillance radar and other advanced electronic warfare and decoys, this 163.2 metres long ship also has Barak-8 long range surface- to- air missiles, jointly developed by Israel and India, fitted on board. Mormugao is adept to carry two anti-submarine warfare helicopters. State-of-the-art rail- less helo traversing system is also being introduced on these ships for efficient helicopter handling on board.
Stealth has been a pivotal thrust area in P15B design. Its advanced stealth features have been attained through shaping of hull and use of radar transparent deck fittings. It is a kind of warship which can launch missiles whose trajectories can be modified during flight to attack mobile targets. These features make the Project 15B ships difficult to detect and specially Murmogao which will be stealthier than INS Visakhapatnam, its predecessor.
The ship’s operational range is around 4,000 nautical miles.
The much talked about sensor for Mormugao is its Multi- Function Surveillance Threat Alert Radar (MFSTAR) which is designed by Israel to
track targets in the air hundreds of kilometres away. Once a lock- on is accomplished, the MF-STAR can direct several Barak 8 missiles to intercept the targets. It is capable of tracking targets both in air and on surface and is installed on stealth destroyer INS Kolkata and the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) INS Vikrant.
Admiral Lanba expressed concern over the growing shortfall in the number of fleets saying, “There is a pressing need to build more such ships and reduce the construction period of future vessels.” Since 1960, Indian Navy and MDL are building ships together, he added.
Mazgaon Shipyard, which plans to outsource work for 10 blocks to include private ship building yard in the programme, has since 2010 provided one major warship to the Indian Navy almost every year. Beginning the sophisticated stealth frigate INS Shivalik, it later delivered INS Sahyadri and Satpura of the same class followed by stealth destroyer INS Kolkata and INS Kochi. INS Chennai, the third and last destroyer of Project 15A, was delivered in August 2016 and is due for commissioning next month. During this period, MDL has also constructed two highly sophisticated Multi-Purpose Support Vessels (MSVs) as high value export orders. MSV- I was exported to Mexico in 2012 and MSV-II was exported to Bahamas in 2014. MDL has also exported various types of commercial ships in the past.
MDL is the only dock in the country that is capable of building submarines. Under Transfer of Technology (TOT) from France’s DCNS, it’s building six Scorpene Class submarines. The first in the class under Project 75 being Kalvari which will join the fleet by end-2016, followed by five others at 9-10 month intervals. It was the same class of submarine whose sensitive and confidential data was at risk very recently as a former DCNS employee leaked over 22,000 pages of secret information about its stealth capabilities in France and it appeared in an Australian newspaper, The Australian’s website. Indian Ministry of Defence announced that it’s ‘not a big worry’. Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister of India had said the Navy has assured him that most of the leaked documents are not of concern. “Basically, what is on the website is not of big concern. We are assuming, on our own, that this has leaked and we are taking all precautions”, he had said. However, the investigation is still going on.
MDL is supposed to build and deliver four more destroyers of Project 15B during 2020-2024. The contract for construction of four ships was signed on January 28, 2011 at the cost of Rs 29,700 crore. Next in line is Paradip ( representing Odisha) followed by Porbandar ( coastal city of Gujarat) under this project.
Carrying a well justified tagline – “Ship Builder to the Nation”, MDL, for the first time in its history, has achieved a Value of Production (VOP) above Rs 4,000 crore in 2015-16 with an operating profit of Rs 218 crore. The last six years for MDL have been tagged as golden years.
The Indian Navy, in one year, has inducted five ships including three warships. Vice Admiral G S Pabby, Controller Warship Production and Acquisition said that their aim is to have 212 ships and submarines in its fleet by 2027. The navy, at present, has only 139. He stated that this was the first time the naval forces have built so many ships of a class, – 10 ships of 15, A and B class – and the process has helped in indigenisation. Mormugao adds “more teeth” to the Navy, he said proudly.
The Navy is set to launch the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier ( IAC) in 2018 while IAC 2 is in planning stage.
Admiral Lanba stated that “this event is India’s quest for self- reliance and indigenisation. The Indian Navy stands fully committed to the call of ‘Make in India’ and we are extremely proud of the fact that all of our warships and submarines on order today are being constructed within the country.”
The Indian Navy is targeting 66 per cent indigenisation for this warship and hopes for 68 per cent for subsequent ships.
Interestingly, INS Mormugao is named after the home state of Minister Parrikar. Mormugao is a picturesque sub district in South Goa. It was featured in the movies The Sea Wolves (1980) and Bhootnath (2008). Mormugao port or Marmagoa, as the British called it, has contributed to the progress of maritime trade in India to a great extent. It is a prominent iron ore exporting port of India with an annual output of around 27.33 million tonnes of iron ore traffic.
INS Mormugao cruising into Arabian Sea for the first time
Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of Naval Staff addressing the audience at Mazgaon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL), Mumbai at the launch ceremony of INS Mormugao
Admiral Lanba all happy and proud at the launch of INS Mormugao