Navy on course for 170 ship force: Navy Vice Chief

Some changes in timelines are being finalised, says Vice Admiral S.N. Ghormade

The Navy’s plan for a 170 ship force are underway, with some changes in timelines which are being finalised, Vice Chief of Naval Staff S.N. Ghormade said on Tuesday. Vice Admiral Ghormade also said the maritime environment is a complex one and it only increases when more number of players are involved. He stated that the Navy has budgeted for a second indigenous aircraft carrier in its Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP).

The Navy will commission the first Project-15B class stealth guided missile destroyer ‘Visakhapatnam’ on November 21, and the fourth Scorpene class submarine ‘Vela’ on November 25, Vice Admiral Ghormade said, briefing the media.

“We live in a time when global and regional balances of power are shifting rapidly and the region of most rapid change is undoubtedly the Indian Ocean Region,” he said. “Continuous efforts are therefore on to ensure that our force levels grow progressively to enhance the capability of the Indian Navy in meeting the emerging challenges.”

Terming the commissioning of ‘Visakhapatnam’ and ‘Vela’ as major milestones in showcasing indigenous capacity to build complex combat platforms, he said as many as 39 ships and submarines are presently under construction at various shipyards across the country.

The Navy currently has 130 ships and had earlier planned to achieve securing 200 ships, which was revised to 170 ships planned by 2027. The timeline is now being revised as the Navy is revising its MCPP for the next 15 years, which is expected to be ready by next year and will be in line with the 10-year Integrated Capability Development Plan (ICDP) being formulated by the Department of Military Affairs to bring in service integration, Vice Admiral Ghormade said.

China has been rapidly expanding its Navy, rolling our more ships than any other country amid its expanding global footprint, especially in the Indian Ocean Region.

On the need for a second Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC-II) and the debate over carriers versus submarines, Vice Admiral Ghormade said all platforms like carrier, submarine and maritime patrol aircraft have a definite role.

“To make a balanced force, all these are required for the capability,” he said, adding the MCPP had factored for all of them while taking into account budgetary allocations and constraints.

The contract for the construction of four ships under Project-15B was signed in January 2011 at a project cost of about ₹29,643.74 crore. The final cost of the project is ₹35,000 crore. The four ships are christened after major cities from all four corners of the country — ‘Visakhapatnam’, ‘Mormugao’, ‘Imphal’ and ‘Surat’. The remaining ships would be commissioned at one per year from 2022 to 2024.

Similarly, the fifth Scorpene undergoing trials is scheduled to be commissioned by October 2022, and the sixth and last submarine by the end of 2023.

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