‘No Example Exists in the World to Compare the Level and Depth of Technology That We Have Transferred To India’
Managing director, DCNS India, Bernard Buisson
How did DCNS India come into being?
DCNS is committed to long-term partnerships and close collaboration with the Indian Navy and local shipbuilding industry. It is for this reason that the group set up DCNS India Private Limited, a subsidiary specialising in naval services, in March 2009. DCNS India’s main missions are to support the naval shipyards and industries (Naval Technical Advice Department), to develop local services with Indian talents (design & marine engineering department) and to extend sourcing opportunities for both local and international needs (sourcing & purchasing department). We are on track in our development, on the training and qualifications of our local staff, vendors and solutions. We are already producing results in detailed designs and procurement. Also, DCNS India was formed to enable us to fully progress our current partnership with MDL in the construction of six Scorpene — latest generation submarines — for the Indian Navy. DCNS is willing to extend its participation in ongoing and future projects for the Modernisation programme of the Indian Navy. We view our relationship with India as both a strategic and Industrial partnership and hence a permanent presence is vital.

Can you comment on the delay in the P75 programme?
The Scorpene project by its very nature is a huge, complex and challenging programme, both for DCNS and for MDL. We believe that initial media reports highlighting undue delays of the programme overlooked this fact. This programme is challenging both for the competences and the industrial means involved.On a technical point of view, a submarine needs to fulfil strong requirements (safety of the crew, acoustic discretion, reliability, availability…) while operating in harsh environments. When you dive, the physical constraints involved are very important.
Temperature variations and repeated dives mean your submarine’s structure will go to a succession of dilatations and contractions. One needs to be very precise and accurate not only in the design phase but also in the manufacture and assembling of every part involved. This is when the DCNS team liaise with MDL providing daily training and support on the supervision.
On a human point of view, integration of large teams of personnel from different countries and cultures always takes time particularly on projects of this nature. Working within a different environment was a challenge both teams were confronted with.
We therefore faced teething problems. It’s very often the case on learning the manufacturing of such technologies. We are going through learning stages and this is actually part of the investment needed. MDL and DCNS share mutual trust and are highly motivated. In the meantime, the shipyard modernisation programme launched by MDL progressed fast. We are happy to state that our integration and working relationship with MDL is seamless and operationally efficient. Both the French defence minister and Indian defence secretary are following this programme very closely and step in when required to give further impetus to the programme. The P75 programme benefits from an unprecedented and unmatched level of ToT. Indeed, no other submarine project in any other country has benefited from a greater depth and scale of ToT right from the first submarine onward. We believe it is crucial to keep competences and industrial means up to date to perpetuate the investments made. That is why we are emphasising that if the Indian government wants to keep what we are transferring, they have to keep the teams and capacities going.
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