In­dia’s War­ship Build­ing Ca­pa­bil­ity

A ma­jor crit­i­cism of the war­ship con­struc­tion pro­gramme in In­dia lies in its huge time and cost over­runs giv­ing the im­pres­sion that DPSU ship­yards are in­ef­fi­cient as com­pared to their coun­ter­parts abroad. Only a mis­sion mode holis­tic ap­proach with ac­tive

SP's NavalForces - - FRONT PAGE - Rear Ad­mi­ral (Retd) Dr S. Kul­shrestha

A ma­jor crit­i­cism of the war­ship con­struc­tion pro­gramme in In­dia lies in its huge time and cost over­runs giv­ing the im­pres­sion that DPSU ship­yards are in­ef­fi­cient as com­pared to their coun­ter­parts abroad.

Cur­rent In­dian war­ship build­ing ac­tiv­ity is not re­stricted to the four DPSU ship­yards, apart from MDL, GRSE, GSL and HSL, or­ders are also on other govern­ment and pri­vate ship­yards like Cochin Ship­yard Ltd, Al­cock Ash­down Ship­yard, ABG Ship­yard and Pi­pavav Ship­yard

"Ships are the near­est things to dreams that hands have ever made, for some­where deep in their oaken hearts the soul of a song is laid."

- Robert N. Rose

THE FUN­DA­MEN­TAL STEPS IN war­ship build­ing in In­dia com­mences with the draft­ing of the Pre­lim­i­nary Staff Re­quire­ments (PSR). This is the re­sult of de­lib­er­a­tions be­tween the Naval Staff and the naval de­sign­ers, tak­ing into ac­count the needs of the In­dian Navy based on fu­ture threat per­cep­tions and the avail­abil­ity of tech­nolo­gies and in­dus­trial ca­pa­bil­i­ties. The PSR in­cludes amongst oth­ers, role, ar­ma­ment, sen­sors, over­all di­men­sions, speed and en­durance. There­after con­cep­tual de­sign work is un­der­taken; it in­cludes sift­ing through var­i­ous tech­ni­cal al­ter­na­tives and se­lect­ing the most fea­si­ble one for the pre­lim­i­nary de­sign. This has de­tailed schemat­ics and cal­cu­la­tions to pro­vide the best de­sign op­tion as per the PSR. It is pre­sented to Naval Staff high­light­ing ar­eas of give and take with re­spect to the PSR. A de­sired pre­lim­i­nary de­sign is ar­rived at, af­ter de­tailed de­lib­er­a­tions. The de­tailed de­sign work fol­lows there­after. This in­volves de­tailed draw­ings, hy­dro­dy­namic mod­el­ling, mod­i­fi­ca­tions if re­quired based on mod­el­ling stud­ies, lay­out plans, de­tail­ing of spec­i­fi­ca­tions and com­mence­ment of di­a­logue with the build­ing ship­yard. The ship­yard pre­pares for con­struc­tion of the war­ship by mak­ing pro­duc­tion draw­ings, procur­ing jigs, fix­tures and equip­ment that may be re­quired dur­ing pro­duc­tion.

Cur­rent In­dian war­ship build­ing ac­tiv­ity is not re­stricted to the four de­fence pub­lic sec­tor un­der­tak­ings ( DPSU) ship­yards, apart from the Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL), Gar­den Reach Ship­builders and En­gi­neers Ltd ( GRSE), Goa Ship­yard Ltd (GSL) and Hin­dus­tan Ship­yard Ltd (HSL), or­ders are also on other govern­ment and pri­vate ship­yards like Cochin Ship­yard Ltd, Al­cock Ash­down Ship­yard, ABG Ship­yard, and Pi­pavav Ship­yard. Some of the naval or­ders on the In­dian ship­yards are:

● Mazagon Dock Ltd: Six Scor­pene class and three Project 75 (I) sub­marines Four Type-17A stealth Three Type-15A de­stroy­ers Four Type-15B de­stroy­ers

● Gar­den Reach Ship­builders and En­gi­neers Ltd, Kolkata: Three Type-17A stealth frigates Four Type-28 ASW Kamorta class corvettes

● Goa Ship­yard Ltd: Four off­shore pa­trol ves­sels (OPVs) Six mine coun­ter­mea­sures ves­sels (MCMVs)

● Hin­dus­tan Ship­yard Ltd: One Project 75 (I) sub­ma­rine Two Mis­tral class LPDs ● Ship Build­ing Cen­tre (SBC): larger Ari­hant class nu­clear sub

marines (not con­firmed) zz Cochin Ship­yard Ltd Indige­nous air­craft car­rier

● ABG Ship­yard: Two train­ing ships

● Al­cock Ash­down Ship­yard: Six Cata­ma­ran sur­vey ships

● Pi­pavav De­fence and Off­shore En­gi­neer­ing Co. Ltd: Five OPVs To be or­dered

● Two Mis­tral class land­ing plat­form docks (LPDs) on pri­vate ship­yards

● Two sub­ma­rine sup­port ships

● Two deep sub­mer­gence res­cue ve­hi­cle (DSRVs)

A ma­jor crit­i­cism of the war­ship con­struc­tion pro­gramme in In­dia lies in its huge time and cost over­runs giv­ing the im­pres­sion that DPSU ship­yards are in­ef­fi­cient as com­pared to their coun­ter­parts abroad. It is true that the DPSU ship­yards have been favoured by the Min­istry of De­fence (MoD) as far as plac­ing of or­ders, many a time be­yond their ca­pac­i­ties is con­cerned, lead­ing to the no­tion that other pri­vate ship­yards may not be able to de­liver the vi­tal de­fence re­quire­ments. The ob­ser­va­tions by the Comp­trol­ler and Au­di­tor Gen­eral (CAG) re­gard­ing award of con­tracts in re­spect of P-28 and P-15A ships to the Goa Ship­yard Lim­ited and Mazagon Dock Lim­ited re­spec­tively, are in­di­ca­tors of this ap­proach. The over-cau­tious view of the MoD, arises from the fact that the DPSU ship­yards are com­pletely un­der its con­trol and also that pri­vate ship­yards have not yet been able to de­velop the trust by con­sis­tent and re­li­able de­liv­ery of ships to the In­dian Navy. The main rea­son for this lies in the dif­fer­ence be­tween other manufacturing in­dus­tries that have ex­ist­ing prod­ucts be­fore tak­ing or­ders and ship­yards, which can only con­struct specif­i­cally de­signed war­ships ‘af­ter’ get­ting the or­ders. The cred­i­bil­ity of In­dian ship­yards is yet to be es­tab­lished with re­spect to in­ter­na­tional com­peti­tors. How­ever, ac­cord­ing to them, high tar­iffs, taxes, du­ties and fi­nanc­ing charges shackle them even be­fore they can be­gin to com­pete.

De­fence ship­yards have been build­ing ships by launch­ing the hull in wa­ter af­ter weld­ing it and there­after the ship­yards ar­ti­sans in­stall ma­chin­ery and equip­ment in highly cramped spa­ces. This has also con­trib­uted to in­or­di­nate de­lays in de­liv­ery of war­ships to the Navy as ships have taken nearly ten years to build. How­ever, ma­jor de­fence ship­yards like MDL and GRSE are al­ready in the process of mod­ernising by mov­ing to mo­du­lar ship­build­ing wherein 300-tonne blocks are man­u­fac­tured in­de­pen­dently along with their equip­ment, elec­tri­cal wiring, pipelines, etc and then fit­ted to neigh­bour­ing blocks pre­cisely. It is ex­pected that MDLs mo­du­lar ship­yard cost­ing ` 824 crore would soon be oper­a­tional, and it is es­ti­mated that in fu­ture, de­stroy­ers would be con­structed in 72 months and frigates in 60 months. The main goals of mo­du­lar con­struc­tion of war­ships are three­fold, first to en­able mis­sion flex­i­bil­ity and fu­ture upgrad­abil­ity for en­hanced ser­vice life of the ship; sec­ond to achieve syn­er­gies in pro­cure­ment, in­te­gra­tion, equip­ment and sys­tem test­ing, and par­al­lel ship hull con­struc­tion; and fi­nally, to en­able re­duc­tions in life cy­cle costs and costly up­grades by sim­pli­fy­ing com­plex­i­ties in fu­ture up­grades.

Fun­da­men­tally, mod­u­lar­i­sa­tion com­prises of three classes of mod­ules, namely con­struc­tion, large-scale func­tional and small-scale func­tional mod­ules based upon their sizes and util­ity. The con­struc­tion mod­ule com­prises large pre-out­fit­ted sec­tions, which are joined to­gether. De­tail work like wiring, pip­ing, vent­ing, etc is car­ried out be­fore join­ing the sec­tions. This part of mod­u­lar­i­sa­tion re­sults in re­duc­tion in con­struc­tion time as well as costs. How­ever, dis­man­tling later is not en­vis­aged, as it would in­volve con­sid­er­able disas­sem­bly of sub­sys­tems. Large-scale func­tional mod­ules com­prise pack­aged units like mis­sion units that carry out ma­jor func­tions and may be nearly as huge as a shipÕs com­part­ment. For ex­am­ple. the weapon mod­ule may in­clude weapon launch­ers, ar­ma­ment han­dling sys­tems and mag­a­zines. The large-scale func­tional mod­ules can be eas­ily re­placed for mod­erni­sa­tion or mod­i­fi­ca­tions. The small-scale func­tional mod­ules are main­te­nance, re­pair friendly units and are small as com­pared to other mod­ules. These are mod­ules, which can be as­sem­bled and dis­as­sem­bled, as these units form the shipÕs sup­port sys­tems. This al­lows for ex­change of sys­tems and easy upgra­da­tion at a smaller level.

Mo­du­lar con­struc­tion cou­pled with fixed price con­tracts would re­duce the con­struc­tion pe­ri­ods and cost over­runs. Long con­struc­tion times as­so­ci­ated with tele­scopic method of con­struc­tion have led to flex­i­bil­ity in car­ry­ing out changes in de­signs and ma­jor equip­ment by the In­dian Navy, which in turn has re­sulted in in­creases in costs and de­lays. Thus with mo­du­lar con­struc­tion and freez­ing of de­sign in fixed price con­tracts, war­ship build­ing in In­dia is en­ter­ing a new era of ef­fi­ciency. How­ever, the con­trol of over­all de­sign, se­lec­tion of ma­jor equip­ment and weapon sen­sor pack­ages would re­main with the In­dian Navy. To­day, ca­pa­bil­ity and re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­sign com­plex war­ships (with as­so­ci­a­tion of ma­jor equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers and col­lab­o­rat­ing for­eign ship­yards), is avail­able only with the In­dian Navy. The ship­yards have not de­vel­oped this cru­cial ex­per­tise be­cause of their de­pen­dency over the ages on the In­dian Navy. This re­stricts them in their manufacturing and in un­der­tak­ing value ad­di­tions.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: In­dian Navy

Kamorta be­ing launched at GRSE, Kolkata

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