Sunday, July 24, 2011


Vishakhapatnam. The Indian Navy has commissioned its 5th indigenously-built large Landing Ship Tank (LST), strengthening its amphibious capability. 

Chief of Naval Staff Sureesh Mehta who commissioned the 5,655 tonne ship at a ceremony at the Naval Jetty here, disclosed that 32 warships and six submarines were under construction at various shipyards in the country, and a few more abroad.

He pointed out however that the present rate of induction of three or four ships a year was not sufficient to maintain the desired force level, which would probably keep reducing till 2012 since the number of ships being decommissioned would be much more than those being inducted.
One reason was that very few orders were placed with the country’s shipyards during what he called the “Lost Decade” from 1985 to 1995.
Lost Decade is the expression defence analysts use due to the blockage of most acquisitions for the armed forces and intelligence organizations following the allegations of corruption in the Bofors gun deal. The armed forces suffered the worst after 1989 when the V P Singh government took over as Prime Minister and imposed virtually a blanket ban on arms acquisitions.
Admiral Mehta said that a large number of ships and submarines were now planned to be built in Indian shipyards, particularly by the end of XII plan ending 2017.
Built by the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) in Kolkota, Airawat is the 132nd ship commissioned by the Indian Navy. Besides playing a useful role in any naval operations during any conflict, the vessel would be highly useful in disaster relief and humanitarian assistance on the Indian coast or those of the neighbouring countries as had happened in 2004 tsunami.

Airawat can be converted into a fuel tanker or even a hospital ship.
Flag Officer Commanding-in- Chief of Eastern Naval Command Nirmal Verma described the commissioning of INS Airavat as a milestone in the Navy’s quest for indigenization and a strong amphibious force.
GRSE Chairman and Managing Director K C Sekhar detailed the advantages of the ship, adding that GRSE had earlier delivered INS Shardul and INS Kesari in 2006 and 2008.
INS Airawat can carry 10 Main Battle tanks, 11 combat trucks and 500 troops. The ship is a potent assault vessel, and is armed with two indigenous WM 18A Rocket Launchers, CRN 91 Anti-Aircraft Guns auto-controlled by Optronic Sights, shoulder launched IGLA Surface to-Air Missiles, advanced sensors and a missile protection suite.

It has a crew of about 170 officers and men, and two onboard helicopters, either Seaking or the indigenous Dhruv.

The vessel is full air-conditioned and has comfortable modular type accommodation. It can stay in the seas for 45 days without replenishment.