There is visible alacrity seen in the frenetic activities onboard India's newly-built anti submarine warfare (ASW) corvette Kamorta docked at the fitting-out jetty (FOJ) of Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd. (GRSE), Kolkata, one of the four Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSU) shipyards in India.
Kamorta, a super-sophisticated frontline warship with stealth features is readying to sail out from the GRSE FOJ to join the Indian Navy's Eastern Fleet in its role as Indian Navy's newest submarine hunter/killer.
Known earlier by its GRSE 'Yard-3017' nomenclature where the keel was first laid and launched in 2010, the sturdy warship Kamorta is the first in its class of four ASW corvettes being built under Project-28 (P28) for the Indian Navy.
ASW corvettes Kadmatt, Kiltan and Kavaratti are to follow suit progressively. The lethal quartet will bring to easy recall names of the four islands in Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshwadeep archipelago after which they are named.
They will be feared platforms for lurking enemy submarines and possibly their nemesis too when detected lurking in our territorial waters. They would also be deployed as advance screen for the Carrier Battle Group to counter any submarine threat to the force.
Clearly, the rules of the game below sea-level are set to change drastically with no room for enemy submarines to manouevre.
Meanwhile, Kamorta's designated Captain -- Commander Manoj Jha -- and the ship's company (officers and sailors) are meticulously carrying out checks of all systems and equipment onboard including the crucial gas-leak checks as per drills as the date for the formal acceptance of the warship from GRSE draws closer.
The formal acceptance will take place in a ceremony -- D-448 Handing/taking Over -- later this month. The warship is slated to be commissioned by Indian Navy at Vishakhapatnam in July 2014, where significantly a nuclear submarine - Arihant - is also being built indigenously.
Shaping a Builder's Navy - Realising a vision in self-reliance
The ASW corvette brings to fruition a significant project in India's pursuit for self-reliance in indigenous warship building, bringing closer home Indian Navy's quest to be a 'Builder's Navy' as well as a true 'Blue-water Navy' with ships and submarines designed and built within the country.
ASW corvette project was conceived with indigenous design effort in the year 2005, which was followed by evolvement of detailed design ab-initio by GRSE in succeeding years. The equipment fit of the ship comprises of large number of state-of-the-art equipment which are being installed on a naval warship for the first time.
Designed by ‘Directorate of Naval Design’ (DND), the successful construction of ASW corvettes with advanced stealth features also bears testimony to Indian Navy's growing capabilities in designing state-of-the-art naval combatants comparable with the best in the world.
Stealth capabilities in the ASW corvettes have been designed by featuring the full-beam superstructure with contemporary ‘X-form’ and optimally-sloped surfaces to reduce RCS (radar cross section) signature.
The ship’s hull form has been made highly efficient for excellent sea-keeping and manoeuverability. The ship has an overall length of 109 meters and is nearly 13 metres wide at its maximum bulge.
The hull of the ship is built with special grade high-tensile steel (DMR249A) developed by Indian Navy and procured from SAIL (Steel Authority of India) for which GRSE trained its team of welders to achieve conditions of near zero-rejection state.
This grade of steel is being used for the first time on any indigenously built naval ship making the ship very cost effective, fuel-efficient, powerful and well suited for the service intended.
With an approximate displacement of 3400 tonnes, the ships can achieve a maximum speed of 25 knots. Powered by four indigenously designed 3888 KW diesel engines at 1050 rpm, the ship can cover nearly 3,500 nautical miles at 18 knots.
Each ship would be manned by 14 officers and 150 sailors. Ergonomy and crew comfort in manning equipment onboard has remained a focus area. Further, the ship has a modern galley (kitchen) for ship’s company.
With about 90 per cent of the ship being indigenous, P28 corvettes introduce many features for the first time in any naval warship. Many of these features bear testimony to commendable indigenization efforts undertaken by Indian Navy jointly with Indian industries for furthering our self-reliance in warship building capability.
Among the many firsts, the ASW corvette incorporates a state-of-art low-noise CODAD (combined diesel and diesel) propulsion system with hydraulic coupling between main engines and gearbox.
Two controllable pitch propellers driven by two raft-mounted gear boxes are capable of twin output or single output as required. This mechanism reduces underwater noise making detection of the ship by hostile underwater threats extremely difficult.
The four engines are mounted on the rafts - two on each - for driving the propellers. Indigenously developed IRSS (infrared signature suppression system) devices are fitted in engine exhaust for reducing infra-red signatures enabling it to stealthily operate.
With reverse osmosis plant for freshwater generation, sewage treatment plant with vacuum toilet facilities totally compliant with International Maritime Organization regulations, the warship measures up to all stringent regulatory needs to operate across oceans of the world.
The ship is also provided with an operator friendly TAC (total atmospheric control) system for high combat readiness with improved habitability and features a fully air-conditioned modular type accommodation.
Electrical power for the ship is generated by four diesel-engine sets powering to 3 MW connected with the ship’s network ensuring 100 percent redundancy at all times.
The ship is also fitted with sophisticated, indigenously made stabilizing systems. The propulsion as well as the power generation systems with damage control system is enveloped by an 'Integrated Platform Management System' for achieving a superior state of control and integration.
Equipped with an 'Integrated Bridge System', operational watch-keeping needs have been given a high priority in its design with optimal space availability for other watch-related activities.
The ship is also fitted with latest communication systems and navigational aids. It is also the first naval ship fitted with bow-mounted 'sonar' (sound navigation and ranging) for enhanced underwater surveillance. Integration of indigenous surveillance radar (Revathi) for surface and air surveillance is another first on any Indian warship.
The weapon suite of the ship is formidable and will be capable of engaging ships, aircraft and shore targets besides having astounding anti-submarine capability. It will be the first warship armed with an indigenous rocket launcher for ASW warfare, while also being the first warship armed with trainable chaff launcher (Kavach).
The weapons and sensors include fire-control radar, surface-to-air missiles, close-in weapon system, medium-range gun system, surveillance radar, chaff system for counter-measures against enemy radars and missiles, torpedo launcher, anti-submarine rocket launchers, EW system, combat management system and advanced sonar system.
These multi-performance features will also provide effective naval gunfire support during amphibious operations.
The ship is also capable of deploying a helicopter, adding considerable punch to the ship’s anti-submarine capability. With a foldable hangar door fitted for the first time with a rail-less helicopter traversing system fitted -- also a noteworthy first on any naval ship -- helicopter operations from the corvette decks will have a significant edge over existing platforms of other warships.
GRSE now a DPSU role model
Currently engaged with projects worth 10,000 Crores and credited with an 'Excellent' MoU rating for last three years, GRSE manufactures a wide range of high-tech modern warships and hovercraft including frigates, corvettes, ASW corvettes, landing ship tank, fleet replenishment tankers, landing craft utility ships, survey vessels, water-jet fast attack craft and interceptor boats.
Much to the dismay of the mandarins at Delhi till not so long ago, GRSE was once touted as an example of how a DPSU should not be. Besotted with labour problems among other things, GRSE began to be the pariah of sorts. But remarkably, GRSE has managed to overhaul both its relevance and stature by being among the profit-making DPSUs since 2006.
Former National Security Advisor and currently West Bengal Governor, Shri MK Narayanan, while speaking at GRSE Raising Day on April 19, stated: "I am well-aware of many facets of its (GRSE) functioning. Today, it is a flourishing ‘Mini Ratna’ with Category-1 status. There was, however, a time when many of us in Delhi had written off the GRSE, treating it as a hopeless case in view of the many problems – specially labour troubles -- which plagued the unit leading to prolonged work stoppages.
The GRSE was then seen as the kind of role model that a Defence PSU should not be. Today, thanks to the approach and attitude of workers, officers and specially the dynamism of more recent Chairman/Managing Directors, the situation has been completely transformed. It is today the model or a Defence PSU that every other PSU – whether in the Defence or non-Defence sector – should emulate."
GRSE turnover has since tripled in a little over five years, thus reflecting the healthy growth of the undertaking. GRSE now boasts of a strong shipbuilding division which includes design and manufacturing sub-divisions, and is perhaps the only Defence shipyard in the country which has its own engineering division.
The successful handing over the first P28 ASW corvette to the Indian Navy within this fortnight will surely bolster GRSE's growing stature as a major warship builder not just within India but also on the global stage.