The Ministry of Defence (MoD) took a significant step towards bolstering the Indian Navy’s operational capabilities by signing a groundbreaking contract with Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), a state-owned company based in Visakhapatnam. The contract entails the acquisition of five Fleet Support Ships (FSS), marking a new era in naval logistics. This pioneering endeavor is set to provide unprecedented advantages to the Indian Navy, enabling prolonged and sustained missions without the need to return to port. The overall cost of this venture is estimated to be approximately ₹19,000 crore.
A New Horizon in Naval Operations
The Fleet Support Ships (FSS) serve a crucial role in maritime operations by facilitating the replenishment of ships at sea. These vessels, weighing an impressive 44,000 tonnes each, are equipped to provide essential resources such as fuel, water, ammunition, and supplies to naval fleets on extended missions. This capability to operate independently for extended periods will significantly enhance the Indian Navy’s reach and effectiveness, particularly in the vast expanse of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
Strategic Impact on Indian Naval Fleet
The acquisition of these cutting-edge Fleet Support Ships holds immense strategic significance. With the capability to support multiple fleets, including aircraft carriers and other warships, these FSS vessels will play a pivotal role in ensuring sustained operations across various naval assets. The FSS vessels possess the remarkable capacity to carry between 20,000 to 25,000 tonnes of fuel and water, which can be a game-changer in naval logistics.
Timeline and Expansion Plans
According to sources within the Navy, the delivery of the first FSS is expected to commence four years after the signing of the contract with Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL). Subsequently, the remaining vessels will be commissioned at intervals of ten months. The Navy envisions the integration of a total of eight Fleet Support Ships over the next decade, augmenting its fleet of tanker vessels. Presently, the Navy operates four existing tankers, with two stationed on the East Coast and the remaining two on the West Coast.
Strengthening National Industry and ‘Make in India’ Initiative
This landmark contract not only elevates the Indian Navy’s operational capabilities but also resonates with the ‘Make in India‘ initiative and the nation’s aspiration for self-reliance. The Ministry of Defence highlighted that the majority of equipment and systems for the FSS vessels would be sourced from indigenous manufacturers, thus fostering the growth of the Indian shipbuilding industry and supporting associated sectors, including Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Hindustan Shipyard Limited’s Role and Expertise
Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), a prominent entity in India’s maritime landscape, is entrusted with the monumental task of constructing these groundbreaking Fleet Support Ships. The shipyard boasts an impressive track record, having constructed 200 vessels, refitted five submarines, and repaired around 2,000 vessels of various types. As part of the contract, HSL is set to modernize its facilities to accommodate the significant demands of this venture while ensuring its other ongoing operations continue seamlessly.
Key takeaways for competitive examinations
- Chairman of Hindustan Shipyard Limited: Hemant Khatri