Amid questions over functioning of Navy in the backdrop of mishaps, it has come to light that the maritime force had been alerting the government since 2008 about the falling strength of its submarine fleet and pressing the need for bolstering its capabilities.
The Navy had been writing to the Prime Minister’s Office and the Defence Ministry, highlighting that delay in the Scorpene submarine project and finalisation of the project for next line of submarines would result in dwindling of its capabilities, sources said on Friday.
The Navy has been telling the government that the dwindling fleet of underwater vessels will weaken its capability to keep an eye on the vast Indian Ocean Region and also weaken the ability to fend off submarine attacks, they said.
Till 2013, India had a fleet of 15 submarines including 10 Russian Kilo Class vessels, four German HDW vessels and one leased nuclear submarine INS Chakra.
But after the INS Sindhurakshak mishap in August 2013, the strength of the fleet has gone down and the Defence Ministry gave its approval for upgrading four Kilo Class and two HDW submarines for maintaining its capabilities.
The Defence Ministry has held several discussions with it on the submarine fleet expansion plan and agreed to change a Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) decision in 1999 by approving the construction of two submarines in foreign countries under the Project-75 India.
Under the project, six such vessels are to be built, they said.
The Defence Ministry is also preparing a note for the Cabinet Committee on Security to hasten the approval for Project-75 India.
The Navy has also suffered because of accidents including the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak in which 18 personnel died after the explosion apparently in its torpedo section.
As per the Submarine fleet expansion plan, the Navy is looking to acquire 24 new vessels by the year 2030.
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.