Indian Navy today commissioned INS Kochi, a stealth-guided missile destroyer and the largest-ever warship to be built in India, at a function attended by defence minister Manohar Parrikar at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai.
INS Kochi is the second ship of the Kolkata-class (Project 15A) guided missile destroyers to be built at the Mazagaon Docks Ltd, Mumbai. The three ships of the Kolkata class are a follow-on to the legendary Delhi-class destroyers, which were commissioned into the Navy more than a decade ago, a defence spokesperson said.
INS Kochi, the second of the three Kolkata-class destroyers being built at Mazagaon Docks (MDL) at Mumbai, at over Rs4,000 crore apiece is designed by the Navy's in-house organisation, Directorate of Naval Design and built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd in Mumbai, costs over Rs4,000 crore.
Although conceived as follow-on of the earlier Delhi class, the ship is vastly superior and has major advancements in weapons and sensors.
The ship, which incorporates new design concepts for improved survivability, stealth, sea keeping and manoeuvrability, will be the 10th destroyer in India's combat fleet.
With a displacement of 7,500 tonnes, the ship is 164 metres in length and has 17 metre beam. It is propelled by four gas turbines and is designed to achieve speeds in excess of 30 knots.
Enhanced stealth features have been achieved through shaping of hull and use of radar-transparent deck fittings.
A bow mounted sonar dome, the second of its kind in an indigenous naval platform, has been introduced to enhance sonar acoustic performance, a defence spokesperson said.
INS Kochi is packed with an array of sensors and state-of-the-art weapons, including a vertical launch missile system for long distance engagement of shore and sea-based targets.
The ship is loaded with BrahMos surface-to- surface missile besides a 76 mm Super Rapid Gun Mount (SRGM) and AK 630 Close In Weapon System (CIWS) designed to take on air and surface targets.
INS Kochi's anti-submarine arsenal consists of Indigenous Rocket Launchers (IRL), Indigenous Twin-tube Torpedo Launchers (ITTL) and bow-mounted new generation HUMSA Sonar Dome.
It is also equipped to operate two Sea King or Chetak helicopters.
The ship is the second in the Indian Navy to have Multi-Function Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar(MF-STAR) to provide target data to Long Range Surface to Air Missile system (LR-SAM).
The MF-STAR and LR-SAM systems were jointly developed by DRDO and Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. To protect against incoming air borne and surface threats, at medium and close in range, the ship has 76 mm and 30 mm gun mounts.
The first of this class, INS Kolkata, was commissioned in August last year, while the third INS Chennai will be inducted towards end-2016. There is also the even bigger ongoing Rs 29,644-crore project to build another four stealth destroyers at MDL, with the first INS Visakhapatnam slated for delivery in 2018-2019.
"INS Kochi will add more teeth to the Indian Navy's sword arm in discharging our duty of safe-guarding maritime interests in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). It further reaffirms our resolve and faith in indigenous ship-building and the 'Make in India' programme," said Admiral Robin Dhowan on Monday.
The Indian Navy is planning to become a 200-warship force with around 600 aircraft and helicopters by 2027 to ensure it can effectively guard the country's expanding geo-strategic interests in the backdrop of the IOR emerging as "the world's centre of gravity".
The IOR has over 120 warships at any given time, with China fast becoming a force to reckon with in the region. China is expanding its naval footprint mainly to safeguard its energy supplies passing through the IOR but India can ill-afford to ignore its strategic moves.
"We have to be on guard. India's developmental destiny is strongly linked to the seas around us. While we do not want competition with China to turn into conflict in IOR, we have to be ready and keep our powder dry," said another senior officer.