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Saturday, August 20, 2011

INS Satpura - the new age Stealth Frigate launched

Today,  20th Aug 2011 should be a great day in the annals of Indian Naval history for it marks the commissioning of  Indian  Navy's second indigenous stealth frigate, INS Satpura.  Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma commissioned the warship, which he said would boost the Navy's operational capability.   INS Satpura is a Shivalik class frigate of the Indian Navy, built at Mazagon Dock Limited. Ship was handed over to the Indian navy on 9th July 2011 and it was commissioned  today.   The Shivalik class frigates or Project 17 class frigates are multi-role frigates with stealth features being built for the Indian Navy.  They are the first warships being built in India with such features. The lead vessel of the class INS Shivalik was commissioned on April 29, 2010.  Another Shivalik class vessel, INS Sahyadri, is expected to be ready for commissioning by next year. Defence Minister AK Antony was scheduled to commission the ship but could not attend as he is indisposed, the Navy chief said.

This class of frigates would be torchbearers and would remain the  main frigates of the Indian Navy in the first half of this century.  A total of 10 further ships are planned to be built in several batches.  The first vessel INS Shivalik was so named after the Shivalik hills.  The vehicles to follow are also to be named after the famous hill ranges of India.  The one  commissioned today, INS Satpura is a state of art warship and embodies and heralds a paradigm shift in the indigenous efforts in the design and construction of surface combatants for the Indian Navy.    It belongs to a prestigious class of frigates that are indigenously designed and built Stealth frigates taking India to an elite league.  They are stealth, can operate at high speed and are potent platform at sea. 

Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) is India’s prime shipyard. It manufactures warships and submarines for the Indian Navy, as well as offshore platforms and associated support vessels for offshore oil drilling. It also builds tankers, cargo bulk carriers and passenger ships and ferries.  The shipyards of MDL were established in the 18th century. These yards have over two centuries of experience inshipbuilding. Ownership of the yards passed through various entities, including the P&O Lines and the British India Steam Navigation Company. Eventually, Mazagon Dock Limited was registered as a public company in 1934. The shipyard was nationalized in 1960, and is now a PSU of the Government of India.

INS Satpura is a 143-metre-long warship with 6,000-tonne displacement and has versatile control systems with signature management and radar cross-section reduction features. Shivalik class warships can deal with multiple threat environment and are fitted with weapon suite comprising both area and point defence systems. It has sensors for air, surface and sub-surface surveillance, electronic support and counter equipment and decoys for soft kill measures. Features like  CODOG propulsion , Total Atmosphere Contro System , Integrated Machinery Control system, Automated Power Management system, Enhanced Combat Management system, ATM based Integrated Ship wide Data Network and Modular accommodation coupled with low RCS, IR, Noise and ELFE signatures herald a paradigm shift in indigenous efforts in the design and construction of surface combatants for the Indian Navy.

Under Project 17, the Indian Cabinet approved the construction of a new stealthy multi-role surface ship in 1997. This was the first indigenous program to build ships with stealth features and it called for the eventual construction of 12 ships.  The Indian Navy ordered the first 3 ships in 1999.  The P17 is an enlarged and modified version of the Talwar {Krivak III} Class frigates. It was jointly designed by the Naval Design Bureau (NDB) and Russia's Severnoye Project Design Bureau .  The stealth frigates are designed to avoid enemy radars and and works on principles of reducing the ship's signature.  These warships are capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots.  Though the keel for Shivalik, the first of the Project-17 frigates, was laid in July 2001 and it was launched in April 2003, its commissioning happened only in December 2008, three years behind.  In March 2009 there was a delay to India's Project 17 stealth frigate, INS Shivalik, because General Electric (GE) had failed to get permission from the US government to install its gas turbine engines

The technical specifications of the ship are :  
Guided-missile frigate
Displacement: 6200 tons
Length: 142.5 metres (468 ft)
Beam: 16.9 metres (55 ft)
Propulsion: 2 x Pielstick 16 PA6 STC Diesel engines & 2 x GE LM2500+ boost turbines in CODOG configuration
Speed: 32 knots (59 km/h), 22 knots (41 km/h) (with Diesel Engines)
Complement: 257 (35 officers)

The Satpura Range is a range of hills in central India. The range rises in eastern Gujarat state near the Arabian Sea coast, running east through Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh to Chhattisgarh. The range parallels the Vindhya Range to the north, and these two east-west ranges divide the Indo-Gangetic plain of northern India and Pakistan from the Deccan Plateau to the south. The Narmada River runs in the depression between the Satpura and Vindhya ranges, and draining the northern slope of the Satpura range and running west towards the Arabian Sea. The Tapti River drains the southern slopes of the western end of the Satpura Range. The Godavari River and its tributaries drain the Deccan plateau, which lies south of the central and eastern portions of the range, and the Mahanadi River drains the easternmost portion of the range. The Godavari and Mahanadi rivers flow into the Bay of Bengal. At its eastern end, the Satpura range meets the hills of the Chota Nagpur Plateau.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

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