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India's third Scorpene-class sub 'INS Karanj' launched, Lamba slams delay

31 January 2018

Indian Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba today launched the third of India's indigenously manufactured Scorpene-class submarines, INS Karanj, which is expected to be inducted into the Indian Navy latest by 2019.

Traditional launching of third Scorpene class submarine, INS Karanj  

But the Navy chief rapped Mazagaon Docks Limited (MDL), the manufacturer of the submarines, for the delay in the project.

Admiral Lanba had earlier said that India planned to have a fleet of 22 submarines by 2020-21. Already, reports indicate that there may be a further delay of two years and all six Scorpene-class submarines may still not be inducted till the end of 2023.

''Karanj launched at MDL Mumbai. Big day for @indiannavy,'' a Navy spokesperson tweeted. ''Reciting of invocations from Atharva Veda in progress before Karanj touches water for the very first time''.

Karanj is the third of the six Scorpene-class submarines being built by MDL under the Project 75 programme of Indian navy. It will undergo rigorous tests for the next one year before it is commissioned.

The first one, INS Kalvari, a diesel-electric attack submarine was commissioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 14 last year. The second one, INS Khandari, was launched on January 12 this year is currently undergoing sea trials.

The Scorpene submarines are a primary modernisation requirement of the Indian Navy, which is currently faced with an ageing submarine fleet, and that too when the Chinese navy has a growing presence in the Indian Ocean.

As India readies herself for a more active role in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and the Indo-Pacific with an aggressive China expanding its 'String of Pearls', a well-equipped Navy is essential to not only guard the over 7,500 km coastline but also secure India's interests in the IOR.

MDL has the contract for the construction and transfer of technology for six Scorpene submarines. The submarines are being built in collaboration with French shipbuilding major Naval Group (formerly DCNS).

While the Indian Navy received some relief with the commissioning of INS Kalvari, it still has to make do with a fleet of 13 mostly ageing submarines.

The technology used in the construction of the Scorpene class submarines has stealth features such as advanced acoustic silencing techniques, low radiated noise levels and hydrodynamic optimized shape.

Karanj is designed to operate in all theatres, including the tropics. It is provided with all means and communications to ensure interoperability with other components of a naval task.

Project 75 (P-75), India's project worth Rs70,000 crore for the indigenous manufacturing of stealth submarines, has been off to a low start ten years after it actually started.

P-75 was approved in 2005 and according to the original schedule, the first of the six submarines, the INS Kalvari, was scheduled to be delivered to the Navy by 2012.

However, it was only by December 2017 that the submarine was inducted into the Navy. INS Khanderi, the second submarine which is named after Chattrapati Shivaji's island fortress, was launched in January 2017. INS Karanj, the third, was launched on Wednesday.

The project is already late by six years. Even if all the delays are smoothed out, the Navy worries, the project has already been pushed back two years.

Earlier this week, reports suggested that the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) had rapped the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the delay. The MoD, in turn, has made its displeasure clear to MDL.

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