The common phrase used to describe the global presence of Britishers was that the sun never set in the British Empire. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the British made so many colonies at strategic locations that they were recognised as the masters of the globe. This was possible due to strong naval power. In that period, the British Royal Navy was the largest maritime force in the world. As air power was still to take any flight, ground forces had their own limitations. In this situation, naval power became the detrimental force to decide the fate of any conflict, and the Britishers mastered the naval way of fighting. It was said that those who rule the waters rule the world.
Similarly, India, surrounded by water, also needs to strengthen its naval force. Eastern boundary from the Bay of Bengal, Western from the Arabian Sea and Southern from the Indian Ocean create cumulatively about 7,516 km of coastline. To secure such a long coastline, India is steadily building a great defence force.
INS Taragiri Launched
In the latest development of naval force, on September 11, India’s shipbuilder Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) launched the third Stealth Frigate of Project 17A ‘TARAGIRI’ in Mumbai.
Named after a hill range in the Himalayas located in Garhwal, TARAGIRI is a 149.02 M long & 17.8 M wide ship. This ship is propelled by a combined diesel or gas (CODOG) propulsion system, a combination of two gas turbines and 2 main diesel engines which are designed to achieve a speed of over 28 knots with a displacement of about 6670 tons.
The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways in its statement stated that the indigenously designed ‘Taragiri’ will have state-of-the-art weapon systems, sensors, an advanced action information system, an integrated platform management system, world-class modular living spaces, a sophisticated power distribution system and a host of other advanced features.
It will be equipped with a supersonic surface-to-surface missile system. The ship’s air defence capability, designed to counter the threat of enemy aircraft and anti-ship cruise missiles, will revolve around the vertical launch and long-range surface-to-air missile system. Two 30 mm rapid-fire guns will provide the ship with close-in-defence capability while Super Rapid Gun Mounts (SRGM) will enable her to provide effective naval gunfire support. Indigenously developed triple tube lightweight torpedo launchers and rocket launchers will add punch to the ship’s anti-submarine capability.
This ship has been built using an integrated construction methodology which involves hull block construction in different geographical locations and integration on the slipway at MDL. The keel of Taragiri was laid on 10 Sep 2020 and the ship is expected to be commissioned by August 2025. The ship is designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house design organization, the Directorate of Naval Design (DND). MDL has undertaken the detailed design & construction of the ship which is also overseen by Warship Overseeing Team (Mumbai).
Launched in 2019, Project 17 Alpha also known as Nilgiri-class frigates is a series of stealth-guided missiles equipped frigates built by MDL and Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE). In February 2015, the Indian Navy signed a contract with Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), a public sector unit, to build three frigates at an estimated cost of Rs 19,294 crore. According to the plans, the first of the three frigates, Himgiri, was launched on December 14, 2020 and the second frigate, Dunagiri, was launched on 15 June 2022.
Similarly, Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited was allotted a contract to build four of the seven frigates in Mumbai at the cost of Rs 21,000 crore. As per the plan, the first of the four frigates, Nilgiri, was launched on 28 September 2019. Second, Udaygiri on 17 May 2022 and third Taragiri on 11 September 2022.
Running efficiently with time, both MDL and GRSE have made significant improvements in manufacturing timeline of the frigates. Five of the seven frigates have been launched and the other two are expected to launch on contracted time. In 2022 itself, all seven frigates will be launched and before 2025, all planned frigates would be commissioned in the Indian Navy.
A Successful Model of Make In India
The timely completion of the project is a classical example of Make in India. All the frigates made under Project 17A or Nilgiri class have used about 75% of indigenous content which is much above the earlier Project 17 of Shivalik class frigates.
The Ministry of Defence in its statement said the ship will be integrated with a large number of indigenous equipment and machinery sourced from major industrial houses in the country as well as over 100 MSMEs. Indigenization efforts received a renewed thrust with the Make in India policy of the Government leading to the development of ancillary industries along with generation of employment opportunities both locally as well as pan India and thereby strengthening the economy.
Frigate building is not only strengthening the Indian Navy’s capabilities but also providing a huge boost to indigenous warship-building capability. Designed and Constructed in India amply encapsulates the Aatmanirbhar idea (self-reliance) which ultimately helps in maintaining strategic autonomy in the conflicting world.
One of the leading Defence Public Sector Units, Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL) is doing a tremendous job in shipbuilding with efficiency and quality. The PSU has modernized its infrastructure and facility for undertaking Integrated Construction and has also implemented several technological components of Industry 4.0. Attached with the Product Data Management (PDM), Product Lifecycle Management (PLM), Virtual Reality Lab (VRL) and Augmented Reality for inspections, MDL presently carries an aggregate capacity to build 10 Capital Warships and 11 Submarines simultaneously. The timely completion of the project proves that India has now taken a great leap forward in warship building and ultimately securing its coastline.
According to a report, China with about 777 warships and submarines is the largest navy in the world. With its Navy might, the Dragon is constantly trying to intrude in India’s area of influence. Advancing with nefarious plans, the Chinese spy vessel Yuan Wang 5, recently made a planned visit to Hambantota port in Sri Lanka. With the capacity for satellite control and research tracking, the spy vessel could’ve snooped deep in India’s locations compromising the security net of India. Although India was able to counter China’s nefarious plan and the ship went back to China for repair after its circuits were fried by Indian satellites.
But still, the Chinese presence in the region is a grave security concern for India. Further, its aggressive push for expanding footprints in the strategic locations & ground realization of the theory of ‘string of pearls’ by ‘capturing’ strategic ports through ‘debt trap diplomacy’ in the region will cause greater damage to the security in future conflicts.
China has already captured many strategic ports located in the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. The Doraleh multipurpose port in Djibouti, Gwadar & Karachi deepwater ports in Pakistan, Hambantota & CICT Terminal in Srilanka, & Kyaukpyu port in Myanmar have already been completed. The spy vessel visit in Hambantota may repeat in other ports too.
The aggressive attempt of China to limit the power of India with ‘String of Pearls’ has forced Indian security strategists to counter the Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean region in a more assertive & strategic way.
Currently running with about 285 warships & submarines, India is in the world’s top 10 navies. In the conflicting world scenario, it is imperative that India ramps up its warship-building capabilities and secure its waters from the intrusion of China or any other naval threat.
As Mazagon Dock Limited and Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) are working efficiently, India should increase the warship building manifold. In the modern world, it may not be completely right to say that those who rule the waters rule the world. But it is for sure that, India can chokehold the world if it completely dominates the Indian Ocean Region in the coming future.
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