Hindustan Shipyard Ltd., the largest shipbuilding enterprise under Ministry of Defence, and world’s premier shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) are likely to undertake joint construction of self-propelled fleet support ships (FSS) for the Indian Navy.
The joint collaboration with Hyundai is taking concrete shape after a visit to South Korea by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May. This was followed by a visit to South Korea by HSL Chairman and Managing Director Rear Admiral N.K. Mishra and the subsequent inspection of HSL by HHI Vice-President-Engine and Machinery and COO Jeong-Hwan Kim to Visakhapatnam.
HSL has already signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with HHI early this year to introduce world’s best practices.
HSL is confident of getting order for construction of five FSS, each costing Rs.2,000 crore. FSS will have a speed of 16 knots, can travel 12,000 nautical miles and have a service of 30 years with capability to carry ballistic weapons.
“Our plan is to construct one FSS at Hyundai by sending a team from our yard to South Korea to enable them to gain expertise. Later with the guidance of Hyundai, we want to build four FSS here,” Rear Admiral Mishra told The Hindu refusing to elaborate further on the project.
To become strong blue water Navy, the Ministry of Defence wants to acquire FSS for evacuation of provisions, fuel, weapons and other things to various units while at sea. HSL, set up in 1941 during World War by visionary Walchand Hirachand under the name of Scindia Steam Navigation with a 80,000 DWT covered dry dock and three slipways with total 81,000 DWT, is facing cash crunch. It was shifted from Ministry of Shipping to Defence in 2010 without giving any high-value orders.
Sources said now the authorities had responded positively to place FSS order and the indent for construction of two strategic operations vehicles (mini submarines) at a cost of Rs.6,000 crore, two landing platform docks amounting to Rs.8,000 crore.
HSL’s plea for construction of six submarines under Project 75 (1) of Navy is also under consideration along with proposals submitted by other shipyards.