Project 21300 Rescue Ship

by Manu Pubby

NEW DELHI: India is scouting for a new deep sea rescue ship to provide assistance to submarines in distress as well as to undertake underwater search. Several rounds of talks have taken place and presentations have been made to the Indian Navy, which is looking for a platform to assist both nuclear and conventional submarines in trouble, Russian shipbuilding officials have confirmed.

The Navy for long has operated without a capable submarine rescue vessel, as was evident during the recent search for missing Coast Guard Dornier CG 791. While the Navy used its submarines and hydrographic vessels to pin point the location of the aircraft that had settled on to the sea bed at a depth of 950 m, it required assistance from Reliance’s Olympic Canyon to bring out the flight data recorder.

Even more alarmingly, the Navy has no platform available in case one of its submarines meets with a mishap underwater and would be dependent on American rescue equipment that will have to be specially flown in.

Aware of this deficit, the Navy is in the final stages of procuring underwater rescue vehicles but still does not have a full-fledged, modern submarine rescue ship in its fleet. The Indian Navy has initiated talks with Russia which will this year commission its new submarine rescue vessel under a new Project 21300 class.

“There have been some specific requests from the Indian Navy and we are taking them in account when offering a product from our side. A presentation was also made for the Indian Navy on board the first vessel of the P 21300 class at our shipyard,” Alexander Buzakov, Chief Executive Officer of Russia’s Admiralty Shipyards told ET.

While the first of the class rescue ship Igor Belousov will be commissioned this year, Buzakov told ET that it would provide assistance to submarines in distress with a capability of launching a manned mission to the depth of over 300 meters. The ship would also have remotely operated vessels that can submerge to even greater depths of 750 m and beyond.

“The ships displacement is about 6,000 ton and it includes a deep divers complex, two unmanned submersibles and rescue equipment. We would of course have no objections if the Indian side wants to equip the ship with submersibles of a different company,” Buzakov said.

The top executive confirmed that the ship can perform rescue missions on both nuclear and conventional submarines. Russian engineers have also solved the tricky rescue problem that occurred when the Kursk submarine sank with 118 hands in 2000.

“It is no secret that in the Kursk incident, the conning tower had got twister and there was no chance to mate the rescue vessel with the tilted structure. Now, this problem has been solved with new technology on the P 21300,” Buzakov says.

If the Igor Belousov was in service in 2000, the top executive says, several lives could have been saved on board the Kursk.