Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) would soon get follow-on orders for building the new destroyers of the 'Kolkata' class, even as the first of the three stealth destroyers is floating around in Mumbai for want of a mooring to fit its turbines.
The INS Kolkata, the Indian Navy's `stealth' guided-missile destroyer, is floating around with no berth available in the Mazagaon Docks where it is to be fitted with four gas turbines to propel it.
An upgraded version of INS Delhi, the Kolkata class destroyer will also have a landing deck and a hangar for two helicopters, 16 missile silos in addition to its torpedoes.
The government has approved building of four more of these power-packed destroyer warships in order to bolster the Navy's combat capability, Navy sources said.
"The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has last month given in-principle approval to the Navy's proposal for construction of four new Kolkata class destroyers," reports quoted sources as saying.
The construction of the sophisticated ships under 'Project 15B' would begin soon after the MDL completes building of the first three destroyers of the Kolkata class under `Project 15A'.
The Navy proposes to have seven Kolkata class indigenous combat vessels built with advanced stealth features, which would have land attack capabilities as well.
The Navy has three Delhi class and five Rajput class destroyers among its fleet of about 140 warships.
The Kolkata class destroyers were expected to join the Navy one each every year beginning with 2010.
Classified as Project 15Alpha, the first of the 6,700-tonne INS Kolkata class destroyers, with four Ukrainian M-36 Gas Turbine propulsion systems, should have been ready for sea trials by now.
These advanced destroyers would have an updated weapons package and new-look exteriors and improved stealth (making it difficult to detect), according to official literature distributed by the directorate of naval design.
According to conservative estimates, the INS Kolkata will be ready only in 2013, at least three years behind schedule. Its keel was laid in September 2003 when it was announced that it would be commissioned in 2010.
Not only the INS Kolkata, but almost all of the Navy's projects, including over 30 ships and submarines being built at home and overseas, are running behind schedule.
Mazagaon Docks (MDL) simply does not have the manpower, design capability and berths to meet project schedules. With no other shipyard available in the country to undertake these projects, this has resulted in huge cost overruns in all projects, including the strategic Scorpene submarine venture.
The INS Shivalik stealth frigate project has also been hit by the new Obama administration's asking GE to stop work on a pair of gas turbine engines.
The Indian Navy is now trying to work around the US intransigence by drawing in consultants from Italy and Germany. The INS Shivalik is likely to be delayed by at least nine months.