Project 75 (I) – Competition Increases as HSL Consortium Joins In
In January 2019, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) approved the indigenous construction of six submarines for the Indian Navy at a cost estimated over Rs. 40,000 crores.
Named Project 75(I), this project is envisaged by the Ministry of Defence as a major boost to the existing submarine design and manufacturing eco-system in India, through the transfer of design and equipment technology, as well as necessary skills and know-how. The MoD also expects Project 75 (I) to stimulate the defence manufacturing industry under the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme.
This is the second project under the MoD’s ambitious Strategic Partnership (SP) which envisions India as a manufacturing hub for defence equipment through transfer of niche technologies and higher indigenous content, thereby enhancing self-sufficiency for meeting the future requirements of the Armed Forces. Under the SP model, an Indian Strategic Partner will collaborate with an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of foreign origin to set up production facilities in the country.
In a strategic move, three public sector companies, Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and Mishra Dhatu Nigam Limited (Midhani) have come together to form a consortium for executing Project 75 (I). Widely considered as an important step towards fulfilling the ‘Make in India’ programme, the tripartite agreement aims to harness the complimentary expertise of the three companies and provide the country with a credible domestic alternative for construction of submarines.The consortium will jointly stake claim with the Ministry of Defence for being considered as a prospective bidder for the proposed P-75 (I) project of the Navy in partnership with the OEM for building six submarines at M/s Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Visakhapatnam.
Established in 1941 on the backdrop of World War II, Hindustan Shipyard Ltd. is the nation’s premier shipbuilding organization with an impressive record of building 186 vessels and repairing 1968 vessels of various types. Bycatering to the needs of shipbuilding, ship repairs, submarine construction and refits as well as design and construction of sophisticated state-of-the-art offshore and onshore structures, HSL has positioned itself as a competent service provider for the defence and maritime sectors. Along with its strategic location along India’s eastern coast, HSL’s strengths lie in its extensive and up-to-date infrastructure and its ability to attract and retain a talented and experienced workforce. The Ministry of Defence recognised the strategic value of HSL and accordingly brought it under its administrative control in 2010. HSL now has offices in Vishakhapatnam and New Delhi.
The HSL shipyard at Vishakhapatnam sprawls over an area of 117 acres and has an ergonomic layout that ensures unidirectional material flow. The yard has the capacity to process 2000 T of steel per month. Along with a stockyard that can hold 30,000 T of steel, the set up also includesmodern plate and section treatment plant, NC Cutting Machines, heavy duty presses, self-elevating trucks capable of handling blocks up to 250 tonnes and large prefabrication shops with EOT cranes of adequate capacity. The hull construction facilities include a fully covered building dock (240 x 53 M) equipped with cranes of maximum capacity of 300 T and three slipways capable of launching up to 33000 DWT. It is no wonder then that the first ever 30000 DWT launch in India was done in 2007 in HSL. The yardalso has a long outfitting quay (460 m) of 10M clear depth equipped with self-contained services and facilities.In addition to the existing facilities, about 41acres of land (OPF Yard and Colony) are also available and can be effectively utilised for augmenting the existing facilities for new construction projects.
Most importantly, HSL also has the capacity and experience of dealing with submarines. HSL happens to be the only yard in India to have carried out the refits of three classes of submarines (refit of two Egyptian submarines in 1971, refit of F-class (INS Vagli) and EKM class (INS Sindhukirti) submarine).
A notable project of HSL was the medium repair-cum-modernisation of Russian-made INS Sindhukirti. During the refit, nearly 100 kms of cabling and 30 kms of high-pressure piping was renewed, thereby making this the most advanced platform ever to be undertaken in an Indian yard. This was also the only instance where retrofitting of missile system in an existing submarine was undertaken in the country. The project was successfully completed and handed over to the Navy on 26 Jun 2015. The work was of such high quality that INS Sindhukirti achieved an RPM of 350 during its very first sea sortie for Full Power Trials. HSL’s work on INS Sindhukirti earned not only many accolades for the shipyard, but also the 500-crores project of normal refit of INS Sindhuvir, a kilo-class submarine of the Indian Navy. HSL is currently executing this project in collaboration with the Russian SC Zvyozdochka shipyard and it is expected to last till October 2019.
With its formidable capacity and track record, HSL has proven its capability to take up orders to construct generation next Greenfield submarines. It is no wonder then that the HSL-BHEL-Midhani consortium, led by HSL, is confident of winning the contract.
Research Compilation By Gauri Noolkar-Oak