The first of the three stealth frigates awaiting commissioning the Shivalik launched in April 2003 now undergoing trials,is expected to be commissioned by the Indian Navy by April.
Although the date is tentative,a spokesperson from Mazagaon Dock Limited (MDL),the countrys largest shipbuilding and offshore fabrication yard,confirmed it to The Indian Express.
The second and third frigates of the same class,the Satpura and Sahyadri,would be commissioned by 2010,an official said.
Apart from the commissioning of Shivalik,designed indigenously by the Directorate of Naval Design,MDL officials are also gearing up for the launch of the second Kolkata-class stealth destroyer,the Navys latest addition to the first,launched in March 2006.
Explaining the difference between commissioning and launch,an MDL officer said that a launch means the ship is launched into sea but essential fittings such as electrical and hull fittings are still to go and that may take two to four years. Commissioning would mean handing over the ship,post fittings and trials,to the end user which,in this case,is the Indian Navy.
The official was speaking during the foundation-stone laying ceremony of the Rs 826 crore modernisation programme undertaken by the public sector undertaking (PSU),which is being funded by the Navy.
According to MDL,the modernisation project comprises creating a new wet basin to park more ships,adding a 300-tonne capacity Goliath crane and setting up of a modular workshop as well as a cradle assembly store.
The new wet basin is of prime importance as it would help MDL start work on more ships than it can under the current set up. According to the spokesperson,at the moment there is space for just three ships-and-a-half (under construction) in the wet basin. After the new one comes up,we can park three more ships and begin work on them, he said. The biggest reason for the delay in delivery of ships is because of limitations in parking under-construction ships, said the MDL official.
After laying down the foundation stone of the modernisation project,Minister of State for Defence Production,Rao Inderjit Singh,stressed the need for increasing efficiency in PSUs. Without mentioning MDL,he said,Production efficiency has not always been a hallmark of PSUs. He urged workers to make relentless efforts to meet production deadlines.
Vice Admiral (Retd.) H S Malhi,CMD,MDL,in his remark on the project,said the target of the Mini Ratna PSU was to increase value of production (VOP) to Rs 3,000 crore from the current Rs 2,321 crore.