INS Deepak, the first of the two Fleet Tankers was commissioned into the Indian Navy by Raksha Mantri A K Antony, on 21 January 2011 at an impressive ceremony at the South Breakwater of the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai. Naval Chief Admiral Nirmal Kumar Verma accompanied by Vice Admiral Sanjeev Bhasin, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command had received him. Also present at the commissioning ceremony were HE Sanfilece Monteforte the Italian Ambassador to India, senior officials from the Indian Navy as well as the Italian Shipyard Fincantieri. The Raksha Mantri observed that Indian Navy has embarked on an ambitious shipbuilding programme to provide it with the required maritime assets to meet its mandate. “Indian defence shipyards are working to their full capacity to meet the country’s warship requirements” he said.
“India’s continued presence in Indian Ocean waters necessitates pursuing our strategic and diplomatic interests for which a ship such as Deepak, with an ability to sustain the Indian fleets at sea for prolonged periods, is a vital asset to ensure Indian Navy’s continuous presence in our area of interest”, he added. Designed, constructed and delivered in a record time of 27 months by Fincanteri Shipyard specifically for the Indian Navy, with a length of 175 metres, breadth of 25 metres and a full load displacement of 27,500 tonnes, this second generation ship is one of its largest. A tanker of double hull configuration in keeping with the latest MARPOL and SOLAS regulations, INS Deepak has been thoughtfully designed as a versatile platform capable of many roles. INS Deepak is also capable of transporting and supplying ammunitions, materials and provisions, undertaking humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations with its modern medical health facilities and is ideally suited to function as a command platform.
With a crew of 15 Officers and 182 sailors, INS Deepak has large percentage of indigenously manufactured components, like sensors and other equipment fitted onboard. The Communication and Combat Information Management System and the state -of -the art aviation facilities enable the operation of various types of helicopters from its deck including the Sea King, Kamov-28 and the indigenously manufactured advanced light helicopter. The Deepak class fleet tankers will be the mainstay of tankers and support ships of the Indian Navy in the first half of the 21st century. The ship has a maximum draft of 9.1 m and displacement of 27000 tons of which, 17900 tons is the cargo carrying capacity which includes 15250 tons of fuel, 510 tons of solid cargo (including ammunition and spares) and 6 containers. The ship has a maximum speed of 20 knots and an endurance of 10,000 Nautical miles at a speed of 16 knots.
Armed for close defence with four AK-630 guns supplied by Ordnance Factory Board, the hightech fire control system and sophisticated electronic surveillance and communication equipment has been supplied by Bharat Electronics Limited. As per Indian Navy’s induction plan, with INS Deepak and another fleet tanker by the yearend, the tally will be four. Two more have been planned for a desired level of six, so that both of India’s western and eastern seaboards always have two operational ships and one each in dry docks for in maintenance. In April 2010, the Navy inducted a fast attack craft, INS Kalpeni for bolstering Southern Naval Command capability in coastal surveillance and search and destruction of fast-moving targets.
Seventh in a batch of 10 ships being built at the Garden Reach Shipyard, Kolkota, INS Kalpeni, with nearly 95 % indigenous content was built in 24 months. The crew of three officers and 38 sailors operate 11 machineguns and shoulder-launched IGLA surface-toair missiles to neutralise aerial threats. In October 2010, India’s first floating dock, designed by Indian Institute of Technology and built in Japan reportedly at a cost of ` 300 crore, was commissioned at Port Blair. Most docks for repairing are land based but after the Tsunami in 2005, a floating dock in Andaman and Nicobar Islands was considered a safe option. With a lifting capability of 11,500 tons, the 188×40 meters dock operated by 107 men, including 7 officers, can accommodate up to three warships simultaneously, except for an aircraft carrier or a tanker. The Navy is likely to acquire another one with a lifting capability of 8,000 tons, for which it has issued a tender.
– Col Anil Bhat ( retd) an independent defence and security analyst, is Editor, Word Sword Features