Advanced weaponry of INS Mysore Delhi-class guided-missile destroyer

Now, warships undergoing repairs will be deployed only after multiple trials

by Pradip R Sagar

Taking lessons from the past accidents, Indian Navy has adopted a new deployment policy for its warships. Now, the warships and submarines undergoing refit or repairs will be deployed only after multiple trials. Earlier, these ships were immediately sent on operational duty, which resulted in mishaps.

There were several incidents of a warship involved in accident soon after joining the fleet. In February 2014, Russian origin Kilo class submarine INS Sindhuratna met with an accident soon after joining the fleet after refit. Two officers died and seven sailors were injured in the accident, which eventually led to resignation of the then Navy chief Admiral D.K. Joshi. According to a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, submitted in July last year, the Indian Navy's ships and submarines were involved in 38 accidents between 2007-08 and 2015-16, adversely affecting the operational preparedness of the force.

The new policy is termed as the 'transition cycle' for its warships and submarines. This carefully monitors the transition from maintenance periods to operational deployments. 

Top naval commanders discussed this issue in the four-day long Naval Commanders Conference which concluded in Delhi on Friday evening.

"This (transition cycle) has resulted in considerable improvement in combat efficiency and crew proficiency of ships undergoing the new transition cycle. The new methodology has also resulted in the overall improvement of operational logistics, spares management and forecasting, refit planning and expenditure management," Navy said in its statement.

Naval commanders conference also undertook a review of the Navy’s mission-based deployments with an aim at maximising benefits accrued from the deployment of Indian Navy ships and aircraft to critical areas within the Indian Ocean Region. At a given point of time, more than two dozen ships of Indian Navy are on mission-based deployment in the Indian Ocean Region for carrying out anti-piracy patrol and aiding humanitarian assistance.

"Measures such as information sharing with other navies as well as combining defence diplomacy initiatives such as bi-lateral exercises and port visits into these deployments are planned to be undertaken,"Captain D.K. Sharma, spokesperson for Indian Navy said.

Naval commanders conference is held in every six months to review the operational preparedness of Navy along with a host of other administrative and logistics issues.

During the conference, a new digital library available pan-Navy for knowledge management and retrieval including archiving of critical date and information was also launched. It was complemented by deliberations on the security and hardening of naval data networks in keeping with contemporary cyber security practices.

In keeping with the Navy’s ethos of harnessing niche technologies, concrete plans to incorporate big data analytics and artificial intelligence into the Navy’s operational functioning have also been formulated, according to a Navy official.

The Biannual Naval Commanders Conference, which began on Monday, had intense deliberations on a wide ranging issues of Indian Navy. Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, during her inaugural day speech, had assured naval commanders that endeavours to bridge critical capability gaps in ship-borne helicopters, fleet support ships and submarines would be progressed by the government. 

While extended support to the long-term capability acquisition plans of the Navy that have been formulated with a strategic view of the Indo-Pacific region, the defence minister also emphasised the imperative need for approval of the second indigenous aircraft carrier. This project, along with the other shipbuilding projects, are already underway or in the pipeline. Mine Counter Measure Vessels (MCMVs), Landing Platform Dock (LPD), Anti-Submarine Shallow Water Craft, Diving Support Vessels and Survey Vessels are expected to provide a major thrust to the ‘Make-in-India’ initiative of the government. The fifteen-year ‘Naval Indigenisation Plan’, promulgated in 2015 by the Navy, has set the tone for the domestic industry to create infrastructure, skilling and jobs.