This is an Analysis of the Indian Navy’s 135 platforms, and its slowed expansion and challenges for the new Chief with listing of ships that have got cancelled or delayed in construction with huge cost escalations in PSUs, not allowed to Private Shipyards who have closed down. Navy has lost 13 platforms.
IDF posts this just before the Election results on 23rd May at a time President Trump is squeezing Chinese and Iranian economies and disrupting oil imports. Trump wants Indian market for its economy to help USA and maritime attributes in the QUAD and will put pressure for that!.
In the last post IDF publicized the Novel AN UNDERHAND AFFAIR by a Navy hand Ranjit B Rai as it is situated before and after partition on two factors. First is CASTE in India which is important and RELIGION which rules most Indians. The RSS BJP combine think with their Hindu Vedanta hearts, and less with their minds.. There is a clear division these days in voters minds as 70% are Hindutva.
Few appreciate the Social experience of the Indian Navy which fares well. It ensures NO CASTES OR RELIGION is to be flaunted on ships and establishments and if this changes it could be a worry for a non Hindutva Captain ! This statement is made after Sadhvi Pragya made a statement from her heart about Nathuram Godse and former Army Generals have moved to BJP Hindutva belief and may be they are convinced the nation and the Army has to be more a Hindu Army. This can help in the short term with a Presidential style of governance. PM Modi is an embodiment of that and after 5 years of hard work he is in Kedar Nath for a day and night with MI-17V helicopters to pray, which was grudged for PM Rajiv Gandhi flying to Islands. IDF admires Modi, as India’s stock has risen under him as a One Man Show. Media covered the Kedar Nath visit despite religion being a private affair. Modi orchestrates media even with his dressings.
IDF therefore takes a RISK TO SAY BJP/NDA will come back as a Government in power on 23rd May. BJP has relied on Hindu religion and Hindutva as their election plank and divided Indians in to Hindus (78%) Muslims(18%) and Christians Parsees Buddhists (4%) and should get 50% votes on religious basis. They also controlled the election machinery who will have many emotional religion minded officials to support.
In maritime projection the fine operational Navy is exercising in the East with US Navy and Indonesia and at IDEX in Singapore after visiting IFR in Qingdao and in the West with France off Djibouti, as IDF reports. And on the 31st of May the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba a Navigator and the son of a former Navy commander, will hand over around 120 ships, 15 submarines including two nuclear boats and 200 aerial platforms to Admiral Karambir Singh, the son of a former Air Force officer. Unlike Admiral Russi Ghandhi he will not make a Signal he made…….I HAND YOU EASTERN FLEET IN GOOD FETTLE AND DO TRY MCPO BHATTACHARYA’S LOBSTER THERMIDIOR, but hand over an operational Navy.
Known as Navy’s ‘Grey Eagle’ (senior-most serving naval aviator), Karambir has commanded ships and has flown Alloutte and Ka-28 helicopters from decks of ships as a young officer hunting submarines, and directing missiles from the air. He is currently commanding the Eastern Naval Command headquartered at Vishakhapatnam which has gained importance in India’s Act East as it faces China, which has an expanding PLA(Navy) commissioning over eight ships and submarines a year and has a maritime truck with Pakistan with ambitions to enter and dominate the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) with bases.
Vishakhapatnam is India’s largest and most congested inner/outer commercial port with inner and outer berths with a narrow channel to the inner Naval berths. When planned as a Naval Dockyard and submarine base at Vizag in the 1960s, Admirals Sergie Gorshkov and Daya Shankar had cautioned that it was not ideal for a naval base as the channel could be blocked, but funds precluded making a green field Naval base at Bimilipatnam, where the Navy has now set up Marcos training.
Vizag also hosts the Submarine Building Centre (SBC) for the Navy’s nuclear underwater deterrent in the Triad and Navy’s home built INS Arihant and Russian leased Chakra are based there. The nuclear tipped B-05/K-15 missiles are stored ashore in the Naval Armament Depot. A new nuclear submarine base Varsha is coming up 100 km South at Rombilli, to relieve the load and congestion at Vizag, as the busy port handled over 65.30 million tons of cargo including coal and iron ore in 2017-18.
Karambir Singh as an Aviator, comes well poised as the 24th Chief of Naval Staff, at a time the Navy’s stock in the world has risen with many commitments to International and National exercises and as the net security provider (NSP) in the IOR and a supporter of the QUAD, which aims to deter China’s ASSASSIN’S MACE.
When Karambir takes stock he will appreciate for reasons beyond Navy’s own control, the surface Navy is slowly shrinking in numbers and the new ships need newer multi role helicopters as the Allouttes he flew years ago are still in service and have passed their time. The good news is MOD has finally placed an LOI for 24 Multi Role MH-60R helicopters on Lockheed which is making waves at IMDEX and 4 survey ships and 16 Small ASW craft have been ordered on GRSE and CSL. Indian Navy now relies a lot on Aviation power with 8 plus 4 P8i fighting machines to augment ships.
A Kashin Rajput class INS Ranjit was decommissioned on 6th May and four BrahMos missile firing sister Rajputs are aging over thirty years and unless replaced by large equivalent platforms the Navy’s Order of Battle (ORBAT) with front line ships will shrink further. Admiral Karambir Singh’s challenge will be two fold. First to keep up the operational tempo that the Navy has built up and to show the Flag abroad despite limited shore support with fewer ships, and more importantly convince the Government to increase the Navy’s ORBAT with platforms with concrete time bound plans which have been derailed, despite Defence Acquisition Sanctions.
The Navy’s malaise has accentuated as:-
- 5 Catamaran Survey craft with Kongsberg-1000 Underwater drones ordered on Alcock and Ashdown Shipyard at Bhavnagar has closed down.
- 3 training ships ordered on ABG at Surat went into bankruptcy
- 5 Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) ordered on Reliance Defence a decade ago, are languishing at Pipavav.
- 4 7,200 ton Type 15B destroyers led by Vishakhapatnam at MDSL have slipped with cost overruns including the 40,000 ton aircraft carrier Vikrant at Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL).
- 4+3 Type 17A Shivaliks in building at Mazagon Docks and Shipyard Ltd (MDSL) and GRSE are slowed as 127 mm gun is still not confirmed for the design. elayed. medium platform ASW Corvette Kavaratti will commission this year at GRSE and so will just one Submarine Khanderi at MSDL. 2 Yantar Krivacks ordered at GSL.
- DAC sanctions of 4 LPDs to open bids, 8 SSNs and 8 SSK submarines and 4 tankers and 114 Light Utility Helicopters AND 10 Ka-31 all languish.
A decade ago the balance of maritime power in the East began to tilt in China’s favour and the Indian Navy scripted an ambitious Maritime Capability Perceptive Plan (MCPP) which targeted 194 warships with 170 capital ships and 459 aircraft Navy by 2027 to grapple with the rapid expansion of the PLA Navy and its ASSASSIN’s MACE but now the Indian Navy talks of a capability based Navy without numbers, well knowing numbers of LONG GREY LINE count in this Maritime Century.
IDF reveals Assassin’s Mace is a Chinese term when China’s hero overcame a far more powerful adversary Shashou Jian with a club which he secretly used and incapacitated his enemy. It was made famous by Evan Pedone in a novel, who discusses the use of the Assassin’s Mace as a weapon which brings the world into World War 3, almost annihilating the United States’ dominance in the world. The nearest equivalent in the West is the magical Silver Bullet to take on a more powerful adversary. Indian Navy has many silver bullets and well trained manpower but it needs platforms for them too. SHAN NO VARUNA.