More reports on: Defence production

India ends talks on Rs32,000-cr minesweeper project with Korean firm

08 January 2018

The government's plan to rope in Busan, South Korea-based Kangnam Corporation to make 12 advanced minesweepers under the 'Make in India' plan suffered a major setback after negotiations with the South Korean shipyard failed at the final stages.

The Rs32,640-crore project to construct 12 advanced minesweepers at Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) in collaboration with Busan-based yard, Kangnam Corporation, was considered as one of the costliest 'Make in India' initiatives.

The defence ministry has directed Goa Shipyard to begin a fresh global search for technology partners for minesweepers.

Advanced minesweepers, also known as mine counter-measure vessels (MCMVs), are specialised vessels for detecting, tracking and destroying underwater mines laid by enemy forces.

India badly needs minesweepers in large numbers as the existing minesweeper fleet is to be decommissioned between 2018 and 2020.  The Indian Navy requires at least 24 minesweepers to secure major harbours in the country.

However, it is making do with only four 30-year-old minesweepers at present, which it brought from the erstwhile Soviet Union.

The situation is alarming as Chinese nuclear and conventional submarines, which make frequent incursions into the Indian Ocean region, can quietly lay mines.

''We were unable to resolve commercial complications despite our best efforts,'' Hindustan Times quoted Rear Admiral Shekhar Mital (retired), chairperson of the Goa Shipyard Limited, a saying.

The government had scrapped a contract to build minesweepers in India in partnership with Kangnam Corporation amidst allegations in 2014 that the Korean firm had hired middlemen to swing the deal in its favour.

The Indian Navy, which requires 24 advanced minesweepers to protect the east and west coasts began to look for these vessels in July 2005. It's present fleet of fore minesweepers, acquired from erstwhile Soviet Union some 30 years back have to be decommissioned between 2018 and 2020, according to the report.

Mital said the Goa shipyard will issue a fresh request to invite proposals from international military contractors for technology transfer for the project. This will be India's third attempt in a decade to build the advanced minesweepers on its own.

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