Presented as ‘game changers’, what are the Indian Navy’s ‘shallow water anti-submarine warfare crafts’?

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GRSE, a Category 1 public sector defense company and leading warship builder in India, recently laid the keel of the fifth of the eight Shallow Water Anti-Submarine Warfare Craft (ASWSWC).

These ships will integrate high-tech functionalities while strengthening the “Make in India” initiative. The EurAsian Times takes a look at ASWSWC.

Locally developed

ASW ships, which will replace the aging Russian Abhay class corvettes which have been in service with the Indian Navy since 1989. The main function of the craft is to conduct anti-submarine operations in coastal waters as well as to manage low-intensity shipping and mine-laying operations.

The recently keeled vessel will have the capacity to conduct large-scale underground monitoring of coastal waters. It will not only serve as a Research Attack Unit (SAU) but will also coordinate anti-submarine warfare operations with aircraft.

In their secondary role, these ASW-SWCs will have the ability to pursue intruding aircraft and lay mines on the seabed.

Indian Navy ASW Shallow Water Craft Concept. (via Twitter)

Local development of the first 700-ton ASWSWC was cleared by the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) of the Department of Defense (MoD) in 2013. The vessel was intended to operate within 200 nautical miles of the base port, monitoring foreign submarines. work near the coast.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) for the design, construction and supply of the eight such corvettes was sent to private and public sector shipyards in 2014.

File: Ins S62.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
File image: S62 Sub – Wikimedia Commons

Five years later, in April 2019, Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) signed the contract for the construction and supply of eight of these SWCs for the Indian Navy. CSL won the contract in a competitive bidding process.

In the same month, the Ministry of Defense awarded a contract for the construction of eight anti-submarine ships to the state-owned GRSE (Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd.) shipyard. The project for which this company is in charge is in collaboration with the Indian multinational private conglomerate Larsen and Toubro (L&T).

Thus, the larger project consists of two parts: eight warships produced by CSL and eight similar ones built by GRSE.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Defense, “the first ship must be delivered within 42 months of the date of signing the contract and the delivery schedule for the remaining ships will be two ships per year.” The contracts for the ships cost the Department of Defense $ 1.9 billion.

The SWCs are expected to significantly enhance the anti-submarine capability of the Indian Navy. Ship delivery is expected to start from October next year, with each shipyard delivering two ships per year from that date.

In August 2021, the Deputy Chief of the Indian Navy, Vice Admiral SN Ghormade, laid the keels of the first warship of the ASW-SWC project. In his speech on the occasion, the admiral congratulated GRSE and L&T for their efforts in achieving this stage despite the constraints imposed by the pandemic and subsequent blockages.

Ghormade had said the Shallow Water Craft, used with ultra-sophisticated underwater sensors and weapons, would boost the Navy’s ASW capability.

Importance of ASWSWC

With the growing number of powerful submarine forces in the affected area of ​​operations, ASW has grown in importance at the strategic, operational and tactical levels. With their potential adversaries inducting modern submarines and relying on denial of the sea tactics, ASW has become an important vehicle to improve their naval capability for most countries.

Speaking to the EurAsian Times, Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha (retired), who is also on the editorial board of The EurAsian Times, stressed the importance of anti-submarine capabilities. He said: “Regardless of the geopolitical situation, the submarines will continue to operate absolutely silently.

Whenever the tension becomes high, submarines generally remain deployed in the likely area of ​​operation, even in peacetime. It is therefore important for the country that its navy has first an adequate anti-submarine detection capability, then a destruction capability. “

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File Image: P-8 Poseidon Down USAF

Main characteristics

The shallow water corvettes are going to be huge. The planned overall length of each vessel is 78 meters while its width is to be 11.3 meters. Ships should have a maximum draft of 2.7 meters at full carrying capacity. In addition, the corvettes will have the capacity to accommodate on board around 57 people, including seven officers.

Thanks to a water jet propulsion system, ships will be able to reach a maximum speed of 25 knots. These warships will have the ability to travel quickly for short periods of time so that they can maintain contact with detected submarines. These anti-submarine SWC ships will have a displacement of 750t.

In addition, they will be equipped with high performance stealth and signature technologies. This will allow them to be largely undetectable as targets for surveillance systems as well as for enemy submarines.

These technologies are particularly useful given the difficulties of detection in shallow water. In this regard, the Admiral noted that detecting submarines in shallow water is tricky because sound waves (used in navigation and sound telemetry systems) tend to hit soft mud and reflect or to be absorbed.

Submarines don’t work in such shallow water. However, he said, “there are smaller corvettes which themselves have shallow draft. Their SONAR equipment can operate in slightly shallower water.

ASW Shallow Water Craft
Anti-submarine warfare shallow water craft concept.

ASW-SWCs will also be equipped with technology enabling them to relay information from opposing submarines to friendly anti-submarine ships and aircraft via advanced data link networks. Warships will be designed to be fitted with various payloads to meet the functions of ships.

Weapon systems on board

Warships will also have the ability to use anti-submarine weapons, including light torpedoes, anti-submarine warfare rockets, and combat management systems. The ships will also be equipped with two stabilized 12.7-millimeter remote-controlled cannons with optronic control systems.

Various automated systems including an Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS), Automatic Power Management System (APMS) and Combat Damage Control System (BDCS) will be present on these ASW-SWCs . Other important features of corvettes include seabed and platform detection and surveillance systems, future underwater sensors, weapons and decoys.

With this set of technologies and armaments, warships are likely to be a good addition to maritime security wherever they are deployed.

Asked about the operational areas of ASW-SWC, Sinha said: “In general, anti-submarine craft are found outside the ports where ships pass day after day – Bombay, Goa, Gujarat – all coasts anywhere. the ships are operating.

At least in the ports that warships regularly operate from, we will certainly have anti-submarine operations in shallow water and anti-submarine operations in deep water.

However, if this turns into a trade war, it can be placed outside of ports where merchant ships come and go as well. “



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