The six Scorpene class of submarines will initially be based at Mumbai for trial and later shifted to their operational base at Karwar, which harbours the new aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya with its fleet of MiG-29K fighters.
Two more submarines are in the outfitting stage and are likely to be delivered to the Navy at a gap of eight months each from the commissioning of the first submarine.All the six boats would be ready for operational use by 2018-19, giving the much needed boost to the Navy's depleting under water wing.
Following a naval tradition, in which warships never die, the new diesel-electric submarines will be named as per the old Foxtrot class boats, which were decommissioned decades ago. They were the first submarines of the Navy. The first two Scorpene submarines would be christened as Kalvari and Khanderi.
As Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and Navy chief Admiral R K Dhowan reviewed the progress in the Scorpene project at the Mazgaon dock in Mumbai, officials said the systems of the first submarine are being “set to work”, which means bulk of the manufacturing is over and what is left now is virtually tightening the nuts and bolts.
The first batch of crew of 10 Navy officers and 35 sailors, headed by the submarine's skipper Commodore S D Mahendale, have been sent for training, sources told Deccan Herald.
Six French-origin SSK submarines are under construction in a Rs 18,798 crore project at Mazgaon dock under technology transfer from DCNS. The project is almost three years behind schedule.
Following the accidents on INS Sindhurakshak and INS Sindhuratna, the Navy currently has 14 operational submarines. But with the exception of Russian-origin nuclear powered submarine INS Chakra, most of the Indian submarines are old, necessitating mid-life upgrades. The indigenous nuclear submarine Arihant is yet to go for a sea trial.
On the contrary, China is reported to have close to 80 submarines, including more than 10 nuclear powered boats. Though Pakistan has fewer submarines, their boats are equipped with air independent propulsion technology that allows submarines to stay longer underwater.
Jaitley also inaugurated a Rs 800 crore Mazgaon dock modernisation project to enhance the yard's ability to construct warships and submarines