Project 15B – Multi-Mis­sion De­stroy­ers on the Roll

If the pro­fessed con­struc­tion and fit­ting out sched­ules of Project 15B are ad­hered to, it will be vy­ing with the most ex­act­ing and ef­fi­cient war­ship build­ing stan­dards prac­tised by the lead­ing uS and euro­pean ship­builders


Soon after the ac­qui­Si­tion of Soviet-ori­gin guided mis­sile de­stroy­ers, the in­dian navyÕs naval De­sign Bureau de­cided to ex­pand their own in­dige­nous sta­ble in­ven­tory to in­clude de­sign of guided mis­sile de­stroy­ers. the re­sult was suc- cess­ful evo­lu­tion of Project 15 de­stroy­ers, which later came to be known as the Delhi class. While the in­dige­nous project de­sign had both Soviet and West­ern de­sign in­flu­ences, naval de­sign­ers came up with a marvel of ab ini­tio de­sign of a guided mis­sile de­stroyer. thus from the sta­ble of Project 15, in­dian navy ships Delhi, Mysore and Mum­bai were born which now oc­cupy the Ôfront­line Ship­sÕs­ta­tus of the in­dian navy. the ef­fi­cacy of the de­sign of Project 15 was sub­stan­tially es­tab­lished when inS Delhi with­stood the sever­est of cy­clonic con­di­tions when trapped for 48 hours in the South china Sea and suc­cess­fully came out of it with­out any dam­age to the struc­ture and the sys­tems.

the in­dian naval De­sign Bureau was

not rest­ing on their oars and soon launched the first fol­low-on project which was des­ig­nated as Project 15a. this project im­bibed not just the tech­nol­ogy up­dates in its de­sign it also fac­tored in all the right lessons learnt from its pre­de­ces­sor Project 15, to be launched with far greater ef­fi­ciency and ef­fi­cacy. The re­sult was suc­cess­ful com­mis­sion­ing of the in­dian navy ships Kolkata, Kochi and chen­nai. th­ese stealth de­stroy­ers oc­cupy the pride of place in the front­lines with plethora of top-end tech­nol­ogy sys­tems, equip­ment and arse­nal. another unique fea­ture of Project 15a was re­place­ment of all ma­jor rus­sian-ori­gin sys­tems with ei­ther the in­dige­nous sys­tems or those ac­quired from the West through ar­range­ments of trans­fer of tech­nol­ogy.

tak­ing a long-term per­spec­tive of the in­dian navy’s ca­pa­bil­ity build up to be the net mar­itime se­cu­rity provider of the na­tion, re­views of the ex­ist­ing de­signs of the ships for up­grades to in­clude emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies and de­sign features, as also to add de­signs of the newer classes of plat­form are the main fo­cus ar­eas of the Direc­torate Gen­eral of naval De­sign (DGnD). Project 15B has thus emerged as the lat­est class of stealth guided mis­sile de­stroy­ers. By in­creas­ing the cav­i­ta­tion in­cep­tion speed the hy­dro­dy­namic noises and vi­bra­tions have been ef­fec­tively re­duced at the cruis­ing speed in each of the ships of Project 15B.

Project 15B

The first ship of Project 15B guided mis­sile de­stroyer was chris­tened as Visakha­p­at­nam and launched on april 20, 2015, at the Mazagon Dock Lim­ited (MDL) in Mum­bai by Mrs Minu Dhowan, wife of ad­mi­ral r.K. Dhowan, for­mer chief of the naval Staff.

Visakha­p­at­nam is the first of the line of four de­stroy­ers of the class de­signed by the Direc­torate of naval De­sign and bear the tes­ti­mony to the ac­claimed legacy of the naval de­sign­ers. the ship is being built by MDL, the premier war­ship builders of the na­tion. each stealth de­stroy­ers of Project 15B has a dis­place­ment of 7,300 tonnes, spans 163 me­tres in length and 17.4 me­tres at the beam. it is pow­ered by four gas tur­bines and is ca­pa­ble of cruis­ing at speed greater than 30 knots. the ships are de­signed to carry two multi-role he­li­copters.

Project 15B de­stroy­ers in­cor­po­rate new de­sign con­cepts for im­proved sur­viv­abil­ity, sea­keep­ing, stealth and ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity. en­hanced stealth features have been en­shrined through shap­ing of hull and use of radar trans­par­ent deck fit­tings which make th­ese ships dif­fi­cult to de­tect. Th­ese ships are also packed with an ar­ray of state- of-the-art weapons and sen­sors, in­clud­ing ver­ti­cally launched mis­sile sys­tem ca­pa­ble of long-dis­tance en­gage­ment of shore and sea-based tar­gets. With sig­nif­i­cant in­dige­nous con­tent, th­ese ships stand in true tes­ti­mony of self-reliance at­tained by our coun­try in the war­ship de­sign and ship­build­ing. DrDo and the in­dian in­dus­try too have con­trib­uted sig­nif­i­cantly in In­dian Navy re­al­is­ing its vi­sion of transforming its pro­file from a ‘Buyer’s navy’ to a ‘Builder’s navy’.

Projects 15A and 15B – A Com­par­i­son

the dif­fer­ences be­tween the Project 15a Kolkata class de­stroy­ers and the Project 15B Visakha­p­at­nam class de­stroy­ers are not much since they both share the same hull de­sign. How­ever, the in­ter­nal fit­tings and fixtures of the two classes are sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent. Some of the key el­e­ments of dif­fer­ences are dis­cussed be­low.

the Visakha­p­at­nam class de­stroy­ers will be armed with a 127mm main gun while the Kolkata class are armed with 76mm su­per rapid gun mount (SrGM). Both classes share the aK-630 close-in anti-mis­sile gun sys­tem. the sonar of this class will be bow mounted and will fea­ture a re­vised bridge lay­out.

the ship em­bod­ies features such as mul­ti­ple fire zones, to­tal at­mo­spheric con­trol sys­tem (tacS) for air-con­di­tion­ing, bat­tle dam­age con­trol sys­tems (BDcS), dis­tri­bu­tional power sys­tems and emer­gency Da to en­hance sur­viv­abil­ity and re­li­a­bil­ity in emer­gent sce­nar­ios.

the de­sign of the mast, which houses the main radar, has been re­vised. the Visakha­p­at­nam class will have a fullfledged to­tal at­mos­phere con­trol sys­tem to pro­vide its crew greater pro­tec­tion in a nu­clear, chem­i­cal or bi­o­log­i­cal war­fare sce­nario. the ships will have a rail-less he­li­copter travers­ing sys­tem to se­cure the he­li­copter they carry in higher sea states.

com­pared to Project 15a de­stroy­ers, which have been re­cently in­ducted, Project 15B ships will be less de­tectable by radar, use radar ab­sorbent paint dur­ing its con­struc­tion and its pro­pel­lers will be more silent to make de­tec­tion by en­emy sub­marines and war­ships more dif­fi­cult.

the car­di­nal dates for Project 15B ships re­flect a quan­tum jump in its ex­e­cu­tion. Launch of Mor­mu­gao just 17 months apart from the lead ship is in­dica­tive of the sound foun­da­tion on which Project 15B is laid. un­doubt­edly, with great sense of pride one wit­nesses the com­mis­sion­ing sched­ule of the ships at an am­bi­tious in­ter­val of mere two years, be­gin­ning from July 2018. if the pro­fessed con­struc­tion and fit­ting out sched­ules

of Project 15B are ad­hered to, it will be vy­ing with the most ex­act­ing and ef­fi­cient war­ship build­ing stan­dards prac­tised by the lead­ing uS and euro­pean ship­builders.

Mor­mu­gao Launched

Another sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone in the an­nals of the in­dige­nous war­ship de­sign and con­struc­tion pro­gramme of in­dia was achieved with the launch of guided mis­sile de­stroyer, Mor­mu­gao, se­cond ship of Project 15B, on Septem­ber 17, 2016, at MDL. With a launch weight of 2,844 tonnes, the ves­sel made its first con­tact with wa­ter at 11:58 a.m. with full fan­fare dur­ing the launch­ing cer­e­mony graced by the chief of the naval Staff ad­mi­ral Su­nil Lanba as the chief guest. in keep­ing with mar­itime tra­di­tions, Mrs. reena Lanba, Pres­i­dent, naval Wives Wel­fare as­so­ci­a­tion (nWWa), broke a co­conut on the shipÕs bow and launched the ship, as in­vo­ca­tion from the atharva Veda was being ren­dered.

ad­mi­ral Lanba com­mended the syn­er­gic part­ner­ship of MDL, in­dian navy, De­fence re­search and De­vel­op­ment or­gan­i­sa­tion ( DrDo), ord­nance fac­tory Board (ofB), Bharat elec­tron­ics Lim­ited (BeL), other pub­lic sec­tor en­ter­prises and the pri­vate in­dus­try in en­sur­ing that force lev­els are made avail­able to meet in­di­aÕs na­tional strate­gic ob­jec­tives. he also con­grat­u­lated DGnD and his team at the Direc­torate of naval De­sign for de­sign­ing state-of-the-art war­ships and con­tribut­ing to­wards achiev­ing in­dian navyÕs dream of transforming from a ÔBuy­erÕs navyÕto a ÔBuilderÕs navyÕ.

With a com­ple­ment of 50 of­fi­cers and 250 sailors, the Project 15B de­stroy­ers are de­signed to be pro­pelled by four gas tur­bines in com­bined gas and gas (coGaG) con­fig­u­ra­tion and are ca­pa­ble of achiev­ing speeds in ex­cess of 30 knots with a max­i­mum en­durance of 4,000 nau­ti­cal miles at sea. ac­cord­ing to the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral naval De­sign (Sur­face Ship Group), Òthese ships are among the most tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced guided mis­sile de­stroy­ers in the world, with state-of-the-art weapons/sen­sors pack­age, ad­vanced stealth features and a high de­gree of au­to­ma­tion.Ó

the Mor­mu­gao will be armed with the BrahMos su­per­sonic cruise mis­sile which can hit tar­gets on land and at sea, 300 km away and Barak sur­face-to-air mis­sile sys­tem. the key sen­sor of the Mor­mu­gao will be is­raeli-de­signed multi-func­tion sur­veil­lance threat alert radar (Mf-Star), de­signed to track tar­gets in the air hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres away. once a lock-on is achieved, the Mf-Star can di­rect sev­eral Barak 8 lon­grange sur­face-to-air mis­siles ( Lr-SaM) to in­ter­cept the tar­gets. the Lr-SaM is a joint ven­ture be­tween in­dia and is­rael and is con­sid­ered among the most so­phis­ti­cated mis­siles of its class in the world being de­signed to in­ter­cept en­emy air­craft and su­per­sonic mis­siles more than 70 km away.

Th­ese ships can truly be clas­si­fied as pos­sess­ing a net­work of net­works, as th­ese are equipped with in­te­grated plat­form man­age­ment sys­tem (iPMS), ship data net­work (SDn), au­to­matic power man­age­ment sys­tem (aPMS) and com­bat man­age­ment sys­tem (cMS). While con­trol and mon­i­tor­ing of ma­chin­ery and aux­il­iaries is achieved through the iPMS, power man­age­ment is done us­ing the aPMS. the cMS per­forms threat eval­u­a­tion and re­source al­lo­ca­tion based on the tac­ti­cal pic­ture com­piled and am­mu­ni­tion avail­able on­board. the SDn is the in­for­ma­tion high­way on which data from all the sen­sors and weapons ride.

the in­dian navy is aim­ing for a 68 per cent in­di­geni­sa­tion thresh­old for the Project 15B class. the other com­po­nents are being im­ported and in­te­grated by MDL.

in­deed, highly cred­itable achieve­ment, con­sid­er­ing the com­plex­i­ties on in­dige­nously de­vel­op­ing and pro­duc­ing high tech­nol­ogy in­ten­sive equip­ment, sys­tems and sen­sors in the ÔMoveÕand Ôfight­Õseg­ments of war­ship de­vel­op­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to the Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Naval De­sign (Sur­face Ship Group), “Th­ese ships are among the most tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced guided mis­sile de­stroy­ers in the world, with state-ofthe-art weapons/sen­sors pack­age, ad­vanced stealth features and a high de­gree of au­to­ma­tion.”

PHO­TO­GRAPH: In­dian Navy

(Top) Chief of the Naval Staff Ad­mi­ral Su­nil Lanba ad­dress­ing at the launch of the Mor­mu­gao at MDL in Mum­bai on Septem­ber 17, 2016; (above) Mor­mu­gao floats on her own post launch

PHO­TO­GRAPHS: In­dian Navy

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