New Delhi: The Indian navy, which was in 1947 considered by the British as ”too young” to handle a sophisticated weapon system like submarine, is going to celebrate Golden Jubilee on December 8 this year of its successful venturing into submarine arm and also emerging as a strong force in Indo-Pacific Region.
Just after Independence, the government realised its geo-political situation, large population, substantial land mass and dependence on sea borne trade and for that it needed to have an adequate navy capable of operating on high seas.
In 1960’s, its traditional naval suppliers the Great Britain, refused to sell their ‘Oberon’ class submarines to India citing it lacks infrastructure and experience.
After failed attempt from the Great Britain, India accepted Soviet’s offer of ‘Foxtrot’ class submarines and commissioned INS Kalvari on December 8, 1967. However, it was a tough decision for upper echelons to take.
After its induction, the Indian Navy quickly commissioned INS Khanderi, Karanj and Kursura in the next two years.
In 1971, Indo-Pak war put the Indian Navy into superior role after having successfully blocked the Karachi port in Pakistan and created substantial damage to their war effort.
During the war, the US had sent the 7th Fleet led by nuclear-powered ‘USS Enterprise’ into the Bay of Bengal in an attempt to intimidate India. But in response, the Soviet Union had sent a submarine armed with nuclear missiles to trail the Fleet.
With this event the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi foresighted a need to develop a nuclear submarine and a nuclear submarine construction programme in the late 1970’s was launched.
Further, India explored taking a ‘Nuclear Attack Submarine’ on lease from Soviet and got ‘INS Chakra’ in 1987 for the purpose of gaining experience in operations and maintenance of nuclear submarine. After three years, it returned the submarine to Soviet Union.
In the meantime, India pursued the indigenous construction of a Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN). The first vessel of the class, ‘INS Arihant’ was launched in 2009 and after extensive sea trials, it was commissioned in August 2016 and joined the elite group of five nuclear submarine building countries in the world.
Again in 2012, India went into a deal with Russia to take on lease of ‘INS Chakra’ and also retained the option to buy it on completion of the lease.
Taking a long term submarine building plan, India with a view to maintain a submarine force level of atleast 24 submarines, chose the ‘French Scorpene’ design under Project-75.
Construction of first submarine ‘Kalvari’ started in May 2009 at Mazagon Dockyard Ltd, Mumbai and has been inducted in September 2017.
It is also likely that the India would construct six more indigenous submarines of the ‘Scorpene’ class advanced version under the ‘Project 75’ of ‘Make in India’ scheme.