New War­ship Build­ing Strat­egy

SP's NavalForces - - WARSHIP -

Newer con­cepts in war­ship de­signs in­tro­duced weapon and elec­tron­ics sys­tem mod­u­lar­ity with in­ter­face stan­dards to en­com­pass mod­u­lar ship de­sign and con­struc­tion, sig­na­ture re­duc­tion and un­matched en­hanced sur­viv­abil­ity. The mod­u­lar­ity con­cept was de­vel­oped to en­able war­ships to tai­lor pay­loads ac­cord­ing to op­er­a­tional needs, re­sult­ing in qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive jump in pro­duc­tion lev­els, to an amaz­ing 1.5 frigates per year.

REAR AD­MI­RAL (RETD) SUSHIL RAM­SAY

IN THE RE­CENT PAST, De­fence Min­is­ter A.K. Antony, in a writ­ten re­ply in the Lok Sabha, gave an elab­o­rate over­view on the cur­rent sta­tus of var­i­ous in­dige­nous war­ship build­ing projects. Main fea­tures of his state­ment were that each of the pro­grammes has se­verely suf­fered due to enor­mous cost and time over­runs. All of the in­dige­nous war­ship build­ing projects are with three lead­ing de­fence ship­yards of the coun­try and in per­cent­age terms, the cost es­ca­la­tions alone have ranged be­tween 157 per cent and 260 per cent. He in­formed the Lok Sabha that ‘ac­cep­tance of ne­ces­sity’ for ac­qui­si­tion of six next gen­er­a­tion stealth sub­marines un­der Project-75(I) has been ac­corded by the De­fence Ac­qui­si­tions Coun­cil. The pro­posal is be­ing pro­gressed. Cost de­tails would be avail­able on fi­nal­i­sa­tion of con­tracts. How­ever, it will take at least two to three years for the con­tract to be fi­nalised and an­other seven years be­fore the first boat is rolled out. Quite clearly, the time es­ti­mate for the fruition of the project would be in­ju­ri­ous to the rapidly de­plet­ing force lev­els of sub­ma­rine com­bat arm.

While he did not quan­tify the ex­tant of time over­runs of the projects, it is a well known fact that the ex­ist­ing sys­tem of as­sign­ing the in­dige­nous war­ship projects by nom­i­na­tion to the three de­fence ship­yards of the coun­try has re­sulted in or­der books of each of the ship­yards choked be­yond their ex­ist­ing ca­pac­ity for the next 15-20 years. The other prom­i­nent rea­sons as­cribed were non-avail­abil­ity of crit­i­cal con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als on time, de­lays in ac­qui­si­tion of weapon equip­ment and sys­tems from abroad, de­lays in fi­nal­i­sa­tion of propul­sion sys­tem and equip­ment, as also de­lays in fi­nal­i­sa­tion of in­dige­nous sub­sti­tutes and its avail­abil­ity.

While each of the de­fence ship­yards were com­pelled to ini­ti­ate mod­erni­sa­tion plans to in­duct newer ship­build­ing tech­nolo­gies, fa­cil­i­ties, prac­tices, pro­cesses, ca­pac­ity up­grades, and in­fra­struc­ture aug­men­ta­tion to match up the or­der book po­si­tion; ex­e­cu­tion of plans it­self have caused pro­tracted de­lays, due to lethar­gic and te­dious de­ci­sion-mak­ing, pro­cure­ment and ac­qui­si­tion pro­cesses, etc. The prime ob­jec­tives of planned mod­erni­sa­tion pro­grammes of de­fence ship­yards are aimed at achiev­ing the qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive aug­men­ta­tion of build­ing and de­liv­er­ing qual­ity war­ships at com­pet­i­tive cost with shorter con­struc­tion pe­ri­ods, in­creased ca­pac­ity, prod­uct mix and short­ened de­liv­ery sched­ules. Re­gret­tably, these ob­jec­tives have fallen way short of the stated as­pi­ra­tions of im­prov­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity lev­els of de­fence ship­yards.

Ex­hort­ing the need for im­bib­ing newer con­cepts in naval ship de­sign and con­struc­tion, Com­man­der Dou­glas C. Deans, a for­mer naval ar­chi­tect of high re­pute rec­om­mends Mod­ules and the Blocks that fol­low are built to very tight and ex­act­ing tol­er­ances. They are con­tin­u­ously mon­i­tored dur­ing con­struc­tion and as­sem­bled to form the Plat­form at ex­act po­si­tions us­ing laser track­ers., “The ship­build­ing in­dus­try and the as­so­ci­ated re­search and de­velop- ment (R&D) or­gan­i­sa­tions are in need of a ma­jor re­nais­sance and ref­or­ma­tion led by young dy­namic and in­no­va­tive pro­fes­sion­als who can think boldly and act be­yond the con­ven­tional box. Like Lego sets, the next gen­er­a­tion of ships de­signs can be re­con­fig­ured for new mis­sions within weeks and even as­sem­bled if the mod­ules are built and avail­able at se­lected lo­ca­tions.”

Global Suc­cess Sto­ries

Fully con­scious of pre­vail­ing in­tense com­pe­ti­tion, un­pre­dictable eco­nomic con­di­tions and its im­pact on in­dus­trial growth,

PHO­TO­GRAPH: US Navy

Lit­toral Com­bat Ship USS Fort Worth un­der con­struc­tion at Marinette Marine Ship­yard

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