The Indian Navy has received the first 1,000-ton fuel barge from private sector entity Titagarh Wagons Ltd, a flagship company of the Titagarh Group, ahead of schedule.

The ship is a refuelling barge for the Indian Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and is meant to deliver fuel to aircraft mid-sea.

The company had won tenders for the construction of four ships following its entry into the ship-building business. In May last year, it commenced construction of two 1,000-tonne fuel barges for the Navy and two coastal research vessels for the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, at its shipyard near Kolkata.

The construction of the remaining three ships should be completed by the end of this year, again ahead of schedule, said an official.

The two 1,000-tonne barges for the Navy were scheduled for delivery on September 7. The first was launched on May 17.

For the two other vessels for the NIOT, the launch will take place by the year-end and will be handed over to the client by May 2019, said an official. Incidentally, the contractual delivery date for the NIOT vessel is February 2020.

Secured in the face of competition from large PSUs and private sector shipyards, the ₹100-crore contract is a fitting addition to the Group's activities, from its initial wagon manufacturing days.

The company has transformed itself from making coaches for local trains, metro coaches and passenger trains to shipbuilding, and has also undertaken special projects for Defence establishments.

The handover of the ship ahead of schedule came in for high praise from Vice Admiral MS Pawar, Chief of Staff, Eastern Naval Command, Indian Navy.

Complimenting the contribution made by Titagarh towards meeting the Navy’s growing requirements of state-of-art ships for its fleet, the Vice Admiral said the significant milestone would help support INS Vikramaditya.

More than 40 ships are being built for the Navy, a majority of them manufactured by domestic companies.

The newly launched ship Fuel Barge 14 has several critical equipment, including specialised flow boom cranes. The company plans to focus henceforth on Defence and specialised ships.