by Pradip R Sagar

Indian Navy may consider the option for producing next line of three submarines from France. But any decision to this regard will only happen after the completion of its ongoing Scorpene submarine project. French firm DCNS is already building six Scorpene submarines in the Mumbai based defence public sector undertaking Mazagaon Dock Limited.

"Yes, there are speculations and even demand to have three additional submarines in MDL. Since we already have production line set up along with expertise, other options can be looked into. But first, existing submarine project should complete on time," Vice Admiral Srikant said on the sidelines of the launch of a special series on the Indian submarines on Discovery Channel.

During French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to India last week, both countries discussed the issue of having additional submarines for Indian Navy. France has been pushing for the programme, but its Presidential polls had put the negotiations on hold. The strength of the Indian Navy's submarine fleet has dwindled from a total of 21 submarines in the 1980s to 14 conventional submarines plus one homemade Arihant-class nuclear submarine and one Russian Akula-class submarine operating on lease. To make the situation more worse, at a given point of time, Indian navy is operating with half of its submarine fleet strength as most of them are in the last leg of their active operational life and are on mid-life upgrades. And the matter raises serious concerns when we compare it with our neighbour China, which has strength of 65 submarines.

While on the Indian Navy's upcoming Project 75 India, Vice Admiral Srikant said that government is in the process of selecting Strategic Partner. "Project will be under the Strategic Partnership Model and once partner is selected, things will roll out soon. We can not give a deadline to it," Srikant added.

The Indian Navy on December 8, 2017 celebrated golden jubilee of its underwater fleet.

Discovery Channel is coming out with a special four part series ‘Breaking Point: The Indian Submariners’ starting from March 19, which will give the viewers a closer look into the world of complex, high-technology platform like the submarines.

"The submarine arm has largely been away from the public eyes because it operates from the depths, beneath the water, and quietly add to the nation’s security cover. However, as we celebrate our golden jubilee of existence, we wanted to reach out to the nation and give them an insight into the life of our supremely talented officers who take grave risk to ensure that the maritime borders remain secure. We are proud to partner with a channel like Discovery and bring forth this unique four-part Breaking Point series on Indian Submariners. We believe this series will be an eye-opener for majority of our countrymen offering a never-seen-before insight into the life a submariner and the challenges he faces on a day to day basis," vice admiral Srikant further said.