November 27, 2014

GSL given central nod to build 8 MCMVs: CMD

The Union government has given the go-ahead to Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) for the construction of all eight mine countermeasure vessels, or MCMVs, for the Indian Navy, with the option of additional vessels, chairman and managing director of GSL Shekhar Mital said on Wednesday during the launch of the first of a series of six offshore patrol vessels, or OPVs, designed by GSL.

Nearly two weeks ago, Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar, during his visit to GSL, had said that the decision on acquiring eight minesweepers for the Indian Navy would be taken soon. Parrikar had dropped hints that the central government was thinking of giving orders to GSL and would like the PSU to go into technical collaboration.

On Wednesday, Mital said GSL has undertaken massive infrastructure upgradation to construct the MCMVs for which it has been nominated by the Union ministry of defence. The shipyard is near-ready to start the constructions, he added.

The Indian Navy is keen on acquiring minesweepers to replace their aging fleet of 12 Pondicherry and Karwar class minesweepers, which are expected to be phased out by 2020.

The minesweepers are usually deployed with local naval defence and search-and-rescue missions.

The Navy requires at least 24 mine countermeasure vessels to clear mines laid by enemy warships and aircraft to blockade harbours during war.

Earlier, the OPV was launched by Rachna Thapliyal, wife of vice-admiral Anurang G Thapliyal, director general, Indian Coast Guard.

Mital said the construction of six OPVs for the Coast Guard is in full swing and the first vessel will be ready for delivery as per schedule by October 2015. All six vessels will be delivered by November 2017, he added.

The powering requirement for these vessels is about 10% less compared to other such vessels, even while the OPVs breadth and displacement have been increased to improve habitability, operability and survivability of the ship, Mital explained.

Recalling the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, Thapliyal said the six OPVs being built by GSL were envisaged in the 11th Coast Guard development plan, 2007-2012, later rolled over to the 12th Coast Guard development plan covering the period 2012-17.

"These new inductions are to augment the OPV force level which is our all-weather workhorse, and so is essential for our oceanic geography comprising two open seas on both coasts," Thapliyal said.

He further said, "I am assured that all six OPVs being built here will join the Indian Coast Guard fleet soon and will operate together to provide the much needed fillip to our surveillance and operational capabilities."

He said the Indian Coast Guard is looking forward to inducting five more such vessels from GSL in the future. These would be in addition to the current six OPVs.

An offshore patrol vessel is powered by twin diesel engines and is fitted with state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment. It carries four boats for boarding-party operations.

One 30mm gun and two 12.7mm guns with associated fire control system, form the main weaponry package.

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