This post by IDF must start with an aside on acquisitions from DEFEXPO-held from 28-31 March,2016 at Goa which was consummated on the isolated large fields of Betul, which were leveled by bull dozers in few months flat, and a 24,000 sq mtr undulating wooden platform like a dance floor and huge white marquee tents with portable A/Cs and mobile toilets were erected with food outlets in record 18 days !
There was poor mobile connectivity so movement was more, and communications were less. DEFEXPO was a success thanks to Jugad by affable RM Pannikar to favour his home state Goa and full marks to the MOD, Army & Navy to chip in. No business chamber was involved but they arranged seminars. Except Army, Navy, DRDO AND Air Force no company had Chalets as they were expensive.
DEFEXPO was a get together of Defence companies at higher tarrifs. Hotels, transport contractors reaped a harvest and all had an enjoyable time. Food and liquor was cheap and plentiful on beaches, and local people very warm with good law and order.
World’s 1000 defence companies (440 foreign) and thousands of professionals, few officials and uniformed who could be spared from New Delhi and in betweens, like offset partners and even black listed came and paid Rs 20, 000 per sq ft minimum was Rs 11.5 L even for smallest media stall (to be eligible to distribute ‘Show Dallies’) and more for the décor and transport of equipment looking forward for orders from MOD and the elusive DPP, which was part announced without rules for Strategic Partners for big items like interrupted c..itus for the large MICs.
A single lane road skirted Betul’s anti demonstrators, and DEFEXPO started late by an hour but was a learning experience and IDF can report India’s defence sector, at least for the Navy and many supplies to its nuclear submarines is coming of age.
India’s Navy is now ‘made in India’ with 52 ships on order with a huge committed outlay. PSU Shipyards at DEFEXPO except HSL are sure of cash flow and delivering. L&T looks to more orders. 155mm manufacturers and Dassault at show asked of their chances for guns and Rafales, as Saab’s Gripen, and USA’s F-18/16s have muscled in to the debate with TOT and cut rates. And in JUGAD, anything is possible after a decade of competition !
IDF told questioners rarely has any clean Indian defence project been concluded in less than 5 years and the Japanese were thrilled as four years were over and BJP is clean. The Shinmaywa amphibious plane project to make in India (like Suzuki Maruti) inked by PMs Dr Manmorhan Singh and then PM Narendra Modi, may move this year but RM gave priority to Rs 30,000 cr for 9 MCMV at Goa’s GSL. Korea’s Kangnam may bag the order from Itermarine of Italy as its an old promise.
2 DSRVs ORDERED
MOD finally cleared the acquisition of two James Fisher Defence UK Deep Submarine Rescue Vessel (DSRV) for Pounds 193m with provision for long term support of its submarine rescue capability, design, build and supply of two complete submarine rescue systems with some off sets, and a 25-year all-inclusive annual maintenance contract. JFD has supplied DSRV’s to 6 navies in the world and China has DSRVs and employs submersible vehicles in IOR for nodule extraction.! JFD will provide two complete fly-away submarine rescue systems, Launch and Recovery Systems (LARS) Transfer Under Pressure (TUP) systems, and all logistics and support. The equipment will be designed, manufactured, integrated and tested by JFD prior to shipping to India for final commissioning and trials. The service support will be managed in country by a team of experienced JFD engineers.
DSRV order has been pending for a decade. India has a Jugad policy of acquisitions even for safety as each service Chief is obliged to work in a silo and safe guard his turf, though a Permanent Chairman COS may take birth in a few months and key will be the definition of his powers, status and his personality.
The Indian Navy 5 years ago had issued an RFI for a suitable rescue system which order nearly went to Ocean Works Int of Canada, but for reasons reader may grasp, it was scuttled as Canada was found wanting, in UPA times.
Giovanni Corbetta, Managing Director of Fisher said, “It is essential to the safety of submariners across the world that submarine rescue services are not just fit-for-purpose, but world class in capability, upholding the highest standards in safety and quality”.
A submarine is one of the most technologically advanced, cramped and potent sea going war machines in any Navy. The loss of three officers and fifteen sailors of Indian Navy’s submarine arm in the massive explosions that took place on board INS Sindhurakshak in the Naval Dockyard Mumbai close to the financial hub of India (RBI and BSE HQ, Ballard Estate and Fountain) in the early hours of 14th August just one day before India’s Independence day led to introspection by serving and retired Naval personnel ( Once a sailor always a sailor). Not only what went wrong on the fully operational sixteen year old Kilo class submarine on that fateful morning, but what lessons the Navy must draw for the future.
The Chinese have the same word for ‘crisis and opportunity’ as they believe in every crisis there is an opportunity which needs to be taken hold of and a DSRV is ordered. The accident of Sindhurakshak could have been massive, if fire and damage with explosions had spread to the ships and submarines with missiles and weapons berthed alongside. In Feb 2015 INS Sindhuratna caught fire at sea with death of two brave electrical officers.
INS Chakra (K-43) too had a fire in the switch board at sea in 1989. She fell from 40 feet to 200 feet on losing power. The emergency was superbly controlled by blowing tanks, and the boat was refitted by the Zvezda technicians and Naval Dockyard Vishakapatnam, and the crew.The professionalism and heroism are narrated by Capt Terenov ( who served on board and assisted in training for INS Chakra -2 also ) in “Under Three Flags”, translated from the Russian by Vadm RN Ganesh, Chakra’s first Captain. Indian Navy has operated over 20 submarines without a major accident no other large Navy USN, RN, Soviet or Chinese can claim.
Lack of submarine rescue system was a glaring deficiency that India Navy could not afford to remain oblivious particularly when it will be acquiring a fleet of six Scorpenes and four nuclear submarines over the next decade and half which will potentially carry atomic weapons.
Admittedly US Navy would have flown in an Ocean Works Canada built DSRV in a Boeing 747 for a calamity needed rescue under water with a DSRV FOR which Indian Navy pays the USN an annual fee as Insurance’ and the DSRV would have been put on a ship to be taken to the scene of the catastrophe to rescue the men/bodies or whatever.
But to minimize co-lateral damage in ship accidents whilst alongside at times fully loaded with Klub missiles and CET-torpedoes in the congested Naval Dockyard of Mumbai is an event that needs the attention of Ministry of Defence (MOD) but with the resignation of CNS Admiral DK Joshi a day after Sindhuratna fire the matter took another turn. IDF feels MOD got off lightly for its inadequacies. But now in a few years India will have 2 DSRVs and the US navy contract can close.