The Ensuring Secure Seas: Indian Maritime Security Strategies in the year 2015 outlined India’s maritime security strategy. It was majorly focused on protecting the country's maritime interests in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) by enhancing India’s capabilities to counter both the traditional and non-traditional security threads. It also emphasized on India’s active contribution to regional security and stability by engaging bilateral and multilateral partners in the IOR.
Illustration by The Geostrata
In this volatile realm of international affairs, there are neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies. In this context, developing indigenous capabilities is the only way to survive. This article analyses how the Mazagon Dock Shipyard Limited contributes to the indigenous aspirations of the Indian Navy.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF MAZAGON DOCK SHIPBUILDERS
Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited is one of the prominent shipbuilding companies in India, which is based in Mumbai. It was first started in the year 1774 and incorporated as a private limited company in the year 1934. Later, it was nationalized when the Government of India took over it in the year 1960.
Since 1960, MDL has delivered 802 vessels, of which 28 are warships and 7 are submarines. It is the only company that has built conventional submarines and destroyers for the Indian Navy. In 2006, the Department of Public Enterprises granted MDL Mini Ratna status-1.
CONTRIBUTION OF MDL TO THE INDIAN NAVY
The Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited built a variety of Indigenous products ranging from Naval ships to Submarines. The following list includes so me of the significant items in relation to the Indian navy. It is categorized into Destroyers, Frigates, Missile Boats, and Corvettes
Vishakhapatnam class destroyers: The Visakhapatnam class destroyers are designed and built in India. They are equipped with cutting-edge weapons and sensors, including radars for contemporary surveillance.
The first of the four destroyers in the Visakhapatnam class, INS Visakhapatnam was created in-house by the Directorate of Naval Design of the Indian Navy.
Kolkata class destroyers: The renowned Project 15 "Delhi" class destroyers, which went into service in the late 1990s, were followed in design by the Kolkata class destroyers created by the Directorate of Naval Design of the Indian Navy.
Project 15B: It is a follow-on project of Project 15. Recently the MDL delivered its third ship - INS Imphal on 20 October 2023 to the Indian Navy. The aim of the project is to develop stealth-guided missile destroyers designed by the Indian Navy’s Warship Design Bureau (WDB) with 75 % Indigenous content.
Delhi class destroyers: The Delhi class destroyers are categorized as guided-missile destroyers. The Kolkata class destroyers will soon surpass the Delhi class warships as the largest warships to be fully designed and built in India.
Nilgiri class frigates: The Nilgiri-class frigate, also known as Project 17A, is the Indian Navy's follow-up of the Project 17 Shivalik-class frigate with approximately 75 % indigenous content. Low-observability technologies, such as new radar-absorbing coatings, composite materials, and "faceted" shape superstructures, are used extensively in the construction of the frigates.
Leander class frigates: The Leander Frigate Project began on 23 October 1966 with the construction of the Nilgiri and ended on 8 July 1981 with the commissioning of the Vindhyagiri. Six frigates were delivered over the course of fifteen years, at a rate of 30 months per ship.
By the 6th Leander, the indigenous content of purchased equipment had risen to 70%. The imported content of the fifth and sixth ships was only 27%, compared to 70% for the first frigate.
Godavari class frigates: INS Godavari was the first major warship designed and built entirely in India, marking a significant milestone in the country's transition from a "buyers Navy" to a "builders Navy."
Vibhuti class boats: INS Vibhuti's commissioning was a landmark milestone for India's shipbuilding sector. It demonstrated that India could design and build modern warships on its own. INS Vibhuti's successful construction cleared the path for building indigenous warships such as frigates, destroyers, and aircraft carriers in the future.
Khukri class corvettes: The Khukri class corvettes are powered by diesel engines built in India. Approximately 65% of the ship is made up of indigenous components.
It is categorized into Shishumar class submarines (SSK) and Scorpene class submarines.
Shishumar class submarine: The conventional submarines are built in Germany with a single central bulkhead and have an IKL-designed escape system as one of their most significant operational features.
Scorpene class Submarine: Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarines, also known as Kalvari-class under India's P75 (I) program, in which six conventional submarines will be built with air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems that will allow them to stay underwater for extended periods.
Project 75(India) or P-75I is a military acquisition project under the Ministry of Defence (MoD). It intends to build diesel-electric attack submarines with fuel cells and an Air-Independent Propulsion System (AIP) for the Indian Navy under the transfer of technology. Earlier, France intended to collaborate with MDL, however, in the meantime, it pulled out the project.
LITTORAL COMBAT SHIPS
It is categorized into Off-shore Patrol Vessels (OPV), Fast Patrol Vessels (FPV), and Floating Border Outposts (BOP).
Off-shore Patrol Vessels: These vessels help in protecting offshore assets, provide support in Surveillance Missions, help in Special Operations Support, Out of Area Contingency Ops, Non-Combatant Evacuation Ops, Convoy Operations/Anti-Piracy Missions, Counter Infiltration Ops, Anti-Poaching/Trafficking, Search and Rescue Missions.
Fast Patrol Vessels: It is a medium-range surface weapon platform that can operate in marine zones and surrounding island territories. The vessel is primarily intended for EEZ and coastal patrols, including shallow water protection, fisheries protection, anti-smuggling, anti-terrorist, and anti-piracy activities.
Floating Border Outposts: Serve as a floating base for a fleet of fast patrol boats. Designed to provide fuel, fresh water, and provisions to smaller fast patrol boats.
As the Indian Maritime Security Strategy 2015 emphasizes the Indian Navy's engagement with regional players and extra-regional players in the IOR, the vessels built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) contribute to it by participating in bilateral and multilateral exercises, providing assistance in humanitarian aid and disaster relief, countering piracy, and by protecting sea lines of communications. These vessels enable India to enhance Maritime domain awareness.
Some of the exercises in which the vessels built at MDL participated are mentioned below:
INS Visakhapatnam participated in a bilateral maritime partnership exercise with the UAE in Dubai on 08 August 2023. The goal of the bilateral Maritime Partnership Exercise was to strengthen professional ties while increasing cross-training on tactics, techniques, and procedures in order to improve interoperability and synergy between the two navies.
From 20 September 2023 to 21 September 2023, INS Sahyadri, which is stationed in the Indo-Pacific, took part in the first-ever trilateral Maritime Partnership Exercise alongside aircraft and ships from the Indonesian and Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The trilateral exercise gave the three maritime nations a chance to deepen their cooperation and raise their combined capacity to uphold stability, peace, and security in the Indo-Pacific area.
The 27th edition of the multilateral naval exercise Malabar 2023 concluded on august 21 2023 in Sydney. This exercise saw the participation of indigenously built destroyer INS Kolkata, Frigate INS Sahyadri, and P8I Maritime Patrol Aircraft along with the Royal Australian Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force, and the US Navy.
NAVAL DEPLOYMENTS IN THE IOR
The Indian Navy has seven deployments for various operations such as Surveillance, reconnaissance, and anti-piracy operations in the IOR.
Due to the implementation of "mission-based deployments" (MDP), about fifteen Indian Navy vessels are engaged in observing all entry and departure points into and out of the Indian Ocean while monitoring seven regions of the waters surrounding the nation, outside of its Exclusive Economic Zone.
The seven deployments are as follows:
MALDEP: An IN ship is constantly sailing near the mouths of the Malacca Straits.
NORDEP: Patrol of the North Bay of Bengal, including waters north of the Andaman Islands and the coasts of Bangladesh and Myanmar.
ANDEP: Patrols between the North Andaman and the South Nicobar Islands.
GULFDEP: Patrols the North Arabian Sea, as well as the approaches to the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf.
POGDEP: It is the oldest mission, deployed in anti-piracy patrolling in the Gulf of Aden.
CENDEP: Patrolling in waters south of India, off the Maldives, and the coast of Sri Lanka.
IODEP: Patrols the South Indian Ocean off the coasts of Mauritius, the Seychelles, and Madagascar.
The upgraded vessels with advanced stealth features and arms at MDL provide options for the Navy to rotate them in these deployments.
In recent years MDL's operating revenue increased from Rs 4,614 crore in FY19 to Rs 5,733 crore in FY22 at a modest CAGR of 5.58% annually. Nonetheless, revenues over the nine-month FY23 period, which ran from January to December, were slightly higher at Rs 5,749 crore than during the entire FY22 year.
This trend depicts the growth of the company, which will enable the MDL to develop further cutting-edge technologies and contribute to the Indian Navy by fulfilling future naval requirements.
One such development can be seen through the development of the indigenous MS-X02A Midget Submarine. MDL has invested a staggering Rs 900 crore in capital projects as part of its modernization efforts. The money was used to construct a workshop for modules, a big crane, a new wet basin for holding vessels, a workshop for submarines, etc. Due to this, consistent topline growth is anticipated in the coming years.
BY NIKHIL SAGAR AND PRIYANSHU JHA