Indian Navy takes delivery of its fourth Scorpene-class submarine, to be commissioned as INS Vela

Published : November 09, 2021 20:40 IST

The Scorpene-class submarine INS Vela. Photo: PTI

The Indian Navy has taken possession of its fourth conventional diesel-electric powered, air-independent propulsion (AIP) system attack submarine of the Kalvari class. Based on the French-Spanish designed Scorpene class of submarines, the indigenously built submarine which is part of the Rs.23,000 crore “Project 75”, was delivered to the Navy on November 9 and will soon be commissioned as Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vela.

Project 75 entails the construction of six submarines of the Kalvari class at the government-owned Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in Mumbai in collaboration with the French Naval Group (formerly known as DCNS). Three of these submarines—INS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, and INS Karanj—have already been commissioned into the Indian Navy.

While INS Khanderi was launched in January 2017 and commissioned in September 2019, INS Karanj was launched in January 2018 and commissioned in March 2021. The fifth submarine in Project-75, INS Vagir, was launched in November 2020 at the MDL and has already commenced her harbour trials. The submarine is scheduled to undertake her maiden surface sortie next month. The sixth and last submarine, according to Naval sources, is at an advanced stage of outfitting.

The delivery of INS Vela, which was launched in May 2019, is a shot in the arm for the Indian Navy’s fast-depleting underwater combat branch. It has successfully completed all major harbour and sea trials, including weapon and sensor trials despite the several COVID-19 restrictions and, according to industry watchers, is a reiteration of MDL’s “reputation as one of the country’s leading shipyards”. The delivery also reaffirmed India’s membership in the exclusive club of submarine-building nations.

INS Vela’s acceptance papers were signed by Vice Admiral Narayan Prasad (Retd), Chairman and Managing Director of MDL, and Rear Admiral K.P. Arvindan in the presence of senior officers of the Indian Navy and MDL. Officials from the shipyard pointed out that two SSK diesel-electric submarines built by MDL in 1992 and 1994 were still in service today and that the shipyard was presently “carrying out a medium refit and life certification of the first SSK submarine, INS Shishumar”.

The Navy currently operates 12 diesel-electric submarines. It has also been operating its solitary nuclear submarine, INS Arihant, since 2018. A second nuclear submarine, INS Arighat, is scheduled for commissioning early next year.

In July, the Narendra Modi government issued a tender for the long-pending project to build in India, with foreign collaboration, six new generation conventional stealth submarines. The project was first granted “acceptance of necessity” in November 2007 and was named Project-75 (India), or P-75(I), and is a follow on to Project 75.