Ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Chief of the Naval Staff

In an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Jayant Baranwal, Ed­i­tor-in-Chief, SP’s M.A.I., Ad­mi­ral R.K. Dhowan, Chief of the Naval Staff, re­sponded to some ques­tions.


SP’s M.A.I. (SP’s): Dur­ing the past six months many dor­mant pro­grammes of the In­dian Navy have been res­ur­rected. Can you please high­light th­ese schemes and time­lines of ac­com­plish­ment?

Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS): The ac­qui­si­tion pro­gramme of the Navy is con­tin­u­ing apace and the re­cent years have seen us mov­ing steadily on the path of mod­erni­sa­tion with ma­jor in­duc­tions. The in­duc­tion of In­dian Navy Ships Kolkata, Kamorta, Sumedha and Sumitra in re­cent months has pro­vided a boost to the In­dian Navy’s force lev­els. The con­struc­tion of P 75 sub­marines at Mazagon Docks, Mumbai has picked up speed and is be­ing mon­i­tored closely. We hope to in­duct the state of the art Project 75 Scor­pene sub­marines com­menc­ing Septem­ber 2016 with all six sub­marines un­der the project be­ing de­liv­ered few years there­after. We have also re­cently pro­posed the con­struc­tion of all sub­marines un­der Project 75(I), which shall sub­stan­tially boost the In­dian Navy’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the years ahead. Con­sid­er­ing the scope of the project, both in terms of tech­no­log­i­cal chal­lenges and costs in­volved the process of seek­ing nec­es­sary ap­provals and un­der­tak­ing nec­es­sary eval­u­a­tion of pro­pos­als as per ex­tant Gov­ern­ment of In­dia guide­lines has been started. I am as­sured that the In­dian Navy’s pro­cure­ment and mod­erni­sa­tion pro­grammes will re­ceive pri­or­ity at­ten­tion of the Gov­ern­ment.

SP’s: Self-re­liance through in­di­geni­sa­tion has al­ways re­mained the cor­ner­stone of In­dian Navy’s vi­sion for force level de­vel­op­ment. What will be the im­pli­ca­tions of the present Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment’s

pol­icy of ‘Make in In­dia’ on In­dian Navy’s per­spec­tive plans? CNS:

The In­dian Navy has been a stead­fast sup­porter of in­di­geni­sa­tion and self-re­liance. The first In­dia-built war­ship INS Ajay was com­mis­sioned in 1961. The In­dian Navy set up its own de­sign depart­ment in 1964 and the first ma­jor weapon in­ten­sive plat­form, INS Nil­giri, a Leander class frigate, was com­mis­sioned in 1972. To­day, all 41 ships un­der con­struc­tion for the In­dian Navy, which in­clude an air­craft car­rier, are be­ing built in In­dian ship­yards. The In­dian Navy’s re­la­tion­ship with De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) is that of syn­ergy. The In­dian Navy was the first ser­vice to part­ner DRDO, even be­fore it be­came a sep­a­rate depart­ment in 1980 and even to­day, the In­dian Navy has three Navy spe­cific labs with DRDO, the Na­tional Phys­i­cal and Oceano­graphic Lab­o­ra­tory, Naval Sci­ence and Tech­no­log­i­cal Lab­o­ra­tory and Na­tional Ma­te­ri­als Re­search Lab­o­ra­tory. In re­cent times, the Navy was the first to fa­cil­i­tate the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the pri­vate sec­tor in de­fence pro­duc­tion by plac­ing or­ders for eight ships on pri­vate ship­yards. Again, in 2012, the In­dian Navy took the lead in plac­ing or­ders in the Buy and Make (In­dian) cat­e­gori­sa­tion in­tro­duced in DPP 2011. Some of the ma­jor pro­cure­ments which have been taken up un­der this cat­e­gory are the land­ing plat­form docks, sur­face surveil­lance radars, and air surveil­lance radars. Con­se­quently, we are very en­thused by the Prime Min­is­ter’s ini­tia­tive of ‘Make in In­dia’. In­deed, with our five decade long ex­pe­ri­ence of mak­ing ships in In­dia, we are well placed to pro­vide fur­ther im­pe­tus to this ini­tia­tive.

SP’s: What is your per­spec­tive on much de­layed Project 75I which was re­cently ap­proved by the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tion Coun­cil? CNS:

There has been sig­nif­i­cant progress made on the P 75(I) pro­gramme. You would be aware that the pro­posal for the con­struc­tion of all six sub­marines in In­dia is be­ing pro­cessed with the MoD. This will be a sub­stan­tial boost to in­di­geni­sa­tion in this crit­i­cal sec­tor. P 75(I) en­vis­ages ac­qui­si­tion of six state-of-the-art con­ven­tional sub­marines with high stealth fea­tures, air in­de­pen­dent propul­sion (AIP), and ad­vanced weapons and sen­sors. The sub­marines will be con­structed at a suit­able In­dian Yard, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with an iden­ti­fied for­eign col­lab­o­ra­tor un­der Trans­fer of Tech­nol­ogy. Con­sid­er­ing the enor­mity of the project, in both tech­no­log­i­cal and fi­nan­cial terms, it will be han­dled ex­pe­di­tiously in ac­cor­dance with com­pre­hen­sive guide­lines.

SP’s: How will the can­cel­la­tion of NMRH deal and con­se­quent re­vi­sion of the decision to ‘Make in In­dia’, im­pinge on avail­abil­ity of newer gen­er­a­tion MRH for the op­er­a­tional Fleet ships? CNS:

Gov­ern­ment has can­celled the Naval Util­ity He­li­copter (NUH) pro­gramme be­cause of non-com­pli­ance to de­liv­ery time­lines as per RFP. Fur­ther, NUH has not been en­vis­aged as a re­con­nais­sance he­li­copter. The pri­mary role of the air­craft is SAR and com­mu­ni­ca­tion support to the fleet. To bridge the NUH de­fi­ciency, In­dian Navy is in the process of procur­ing ALH for coastal se­cu­rity which would meet the re­quire­ment of shore based SAR and com­mu­ni­ca­tion du­ties till fruition of NUH case. To meet the crit­i­cal re­quire­ment for a light SAR he­li­copter ca­pa­ble of afloat op­er­a­tions, the NUH case is be­ing pro­gressed afresh.

SP’s: As an emerg­ing re­gional power, In­dia is ex­pected to play a ma­jor lead­er­ship role. Can you elab­o­rate on our Navy’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties? CNS:

In­dian Ocean has emerged as world’s cen­tre of grav­ity in the mar­itime do­main. It is unique in a way that 66 per cent of world’s oil and 33 per cent cargo tran­sits through th­ese wa­ters. With 80 per cent of oil and freight em­a­nat­ing from this re­gion, any dis­rup­tion will have a detri­men­tal im­pact on not just the re­gional, but the global econ­omy. We face a chal­lenge from piracy, asym­met­ri­cal war­fare and mar­itime ter­ror­ism in the mar­itime do­main. To safe­guard the in­ter­est we have 125 ships from 20 coun­tries al­ways de­ployed in the In­dian Ocean.

It is not pos­si­ble for any navy to carry out the task of keep­ing th­ese wa­ters safe and se­cure com­pletely on its own that is why mar­itime do­main lends it­self for co­op­er­a­tion. The role that In­dian Navy had en­vis­aged for it­self, is as­pect re­lated to en­hanc­ing the co­op­er­a­tion, ca­pac­ity and con­fi­dence build­ing be­tween the coun­tries. In an ini­tia­tive driven by In­dian Navy in 2008, 35 mem­ber navies come to­gether for as­pects re­lated to co­op­er­a­tion in the mar­itime do­main. We play a ma­jor role in this co­op­er­a­tion and en­gage­ment.

SP’s: Do we see stealth-based plat­forms in the fu­ture and what would be role of in­di­geni­sa­tion in th­ese plat­forms? CNS:

Cer­tainly yes. Stealth has been a unique fea­ture of the Shiva­lik class de­stroy­ers and many other plat­forms re­cently in­ducted. The fu­ture will cer­tainly see the stealth fea­tures com­ing up in­creas­ingly in the de­signs of all war­ships, sub­marines and air­crafts that we will in­duct. The de­signs of th­ese plat­forms will be in­dige­nous, de­signed by our own de­sign­ers in the coun­try.

Chief of the Naval Staff Ad­mi­ral R.K. Dhowan with Rear Ad­mi­ral Sushil Ram­say (Retd) and Jayant Baranwal (right)

Chief of the Naval Staff Ad­mi­ral R.K. Dhowan in con­ver­sa­t­u­ion with Jayant Baranwal and

Rear Ad­mi­ral Sushil Ram­say (Retd)

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