The story of a path setting ship INS Nilgiri of the Indian Navy needs to told. It is the operational performance of the 3,000 ton modern Leander frigate(F33) that set the pace of confidence to the Executive and Technical Brass of India’s Navy to become a builder’s Navy. She served from 1972 to 1996.
The Indian Navy selected the proven Leander design and it from Yarrow Shipyard Ltd in Scotland and Vickers Ltd to build Niligiri at Mazagon Docks Ltd(MDL) Bombay. On 23rd October, 1968(Writer’s wedding anniversary) PM Indira Gandhi applied ‘Kum Kum’ on Nilgiri’s stern and launched her at MDL, and on 3rd June 1972 (Adm Madhevendra’s wedding day or birthday writer forgets), she commissioned Nilgiri into the Indian Navy. Equipment was selected by Capt DS Paintal (TAS) as DCPT in NHQ later appointed Captain by CNS Adm SM Nanda over others as he had commanded a Khukri class with elan.
The Leander Project at NHQ and its team in Yarrow Shipyard Ltd under Commodore Kapadia and course mate Lt Cdr Rishwadkar(E) worked out scheduling of supplies. That is when Navy’s indigenisation started in earnest to cut costs. Valves came from Leader in Jullundur, SRE from Motwani and pumps from companies in Pune and hull fittings from merchant ship suppliers in Bombay. Officers took initiative.
Nilgiri’s performance at sea gaveIndian Navy’s rank and file, shipyards and dockyards a spurt to imbibe the world’s latest naval technology and ship building practices, which has been taken to heights by today’s Navy with self help, and a will to ‘Make in India’. CMDs of PSU yards came from the Navy. This has paid dividends and Navy set up a small Naval Design Directorate and the Weapons Electronics Engineering Systems Establishment(WEESE) in private premises in New Delhi. Some officers from Nilgiri later joined WEESE which has done yeoman R&D work for the Navy.Continue reading