Despite challenges posed by ongoing pandemic COVID-19, keel of the second frigate for the Indian Navy was laid at Goa Shipyard Ltd on Friday (June 18, 2021).
More about the second frigate & indigenous content
It is a major import substitute project.
This project is being executed under the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) with Russia which is for two Advanced Missile Frigates for the Indian Navy and is part of indigenous shipbuilding program. In 2019, the contract for building these two frigates was inked between GSL and the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
To be built under the Make in India Initiative, a large number of major equipment is expected to be substituted by indigenous equivalents. The building material will be indigenous.
According to the Indian Navy, the entire hulls of the ships are also being built with indigenous steel — from SAIL.
Also sensors and communications will be indigenous, as well as the wiring and special cables.
What is the importance of Keel laying?
It is a major milestone activity and symbolizes the formal commencement of the construction process of the ship.
Earlier this year, on Jan 29, 2021, the keel for the first Advanced Missile Frigate was laid and this ship will be delivered to the Indian navy in 2026, and six months later the second ship will be handed over.
The keel was laid by VADM G Ashok Kumar, Vice Chief of Naval Staff in the presence of Cmde B B Nagpal, NM Chairman and Managing Director, GSL. Others present during the virtual ceremony included Vice Admiral Kiran Deshmukh, Controller Warship Production & Acquisition (CWP&A), Cmde Sanjay Shrivastava, Cmde (SP), Directors, and other senior officials of the Indian Navy and GSL.
For the first time, vessels of vast complexity are being constructed in India. In his address during the ceremony, the VADM G Ashok Kumar, Vice Chief of Naval Staff said that several changes in the design will be incorporated in the ships to be constructed at the GSL. This is a huge milestone for the shipyard which has got involved in the large-scale indigenization in collaboration with the Indian industry.
These stealth frigates which are based on the design from Russia — Admiral Grigorovich-class (Project 1135.6) or advanced Talwar-class frigates, are expected to be fitted with the India-Russia BrahMos Missiles. This will be instead of the Russian 3M-54E Klub-N anti-ship missiles.
As per the contract between India and Russia, two frigates will be built in Russia at Yantar shipyard at Kaliningrad in Russia and two at GSL. These Talwar class frigates are expected to add more strength to the Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
As has been reported earlier by Financial Express Online in October 2018, these ships are powered by M90FR gas turbines which are designed and built by Zorya-Mashproekt based in Ukraine. However, the Russian built frigates will come to India without the engines. The engines which are to be procured directly from Ukraine are expected to be fitted at the GSL.
Meanwhile, at the Russian shipyard, efforts are going on to make indigenous engines from this class of frigates.
GSL has been nominated by the government for the production of the frigates under Transfer of Technology Agreement with Russia.
Requirement of the Indian Navy
Today, the navy needs around 24 frigates. However it is operating just 10.
As reported earlier, the 3,620-ton Admiral Grigorovich-class of Russia is an upgraded variant of the six Talwar-class frigates which were built for the Indian Navy between 2003 and 2013.
INS Teg and INS Tarkash, the first of the three frigates were delivered to the navy in 2012 and INS Trikand came in 2013