Interview | Chairman and Managing Director, Naval Group in India, Rear Admiral Rahul Kumar Shrawat (retd)

‘I Cannot Think of Any Other International Partnership for a Complex Platform Such as Submarine Having Worked as Well’

Chairman and Managing Director, Naval Group in India, Rear Admiral Rahul Kumar Shrawat (retd)With the recent launch of the third boat of the Scorpene class Karanj, the programme finally seems to be moving smoothly. How do you see it progressing in the next few years?

The first boat was commissioned by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December last year. This was quickly followed by the launch of the third boat Karanj. The second submarine Khanderi, which is currently undergoing the trials, is also doing well. It’s safe to say that the programme is now well on track. But it is true that it was a long and arduous struggle by all stakeholders to bring this programme on track.

In this regard, I would like to say taking into account that there was a huge gap between the last programme that Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL) executed with the Germans and this one, the struggle can be considered more commendable. Interestingly, as brought out by the Indian Navy and MDL during launch of Karanj, this was the first time a third submarine of any series has been launched in India completely made in India unlike for U209, where only two were made in India. MDL has also pointed out that on this particular boat, work has more or less been done entirely by them without much of external support, which means that the support from our Naval Group’s overseeing team was reasonable. This is a very satisfying feeling because this shows that both transfer and absorption of technology has been successful.

However, here I would like to add that submarine building programme is extremely complex and one encounters different kinds of problems on different boats. So, problems may arise but Naval Group along with MDL is quite competent to handle them. In any case, Naval Group team is always there with MDL whenever they need the support.

 

Is the Naval Group team still present at MDL to supervise the construction?

Yes, they are there. One, the contractual commitment of the overseeing team is till the commissioning of the second boat. Since the second of class is currently undergoing trials, our commitment remains. But even after that our team will remain, though in lesser number to assist our natural partner MDL which we consider as centre of excellence for submarine building.

 

When will the second of class be ready for commissioning?

She is undergoing sea trials right now and will get commissioned sometime this year. Everything will now depend upon the performance of the boat and the equipment fitted inside. Both our team and MDL have been trying to ensure that the bulk of the sea leg of the trials should get over before the monsoon sets in.



Given that the navy is yet to finalise the full weapons’ pack for the submarines, will MDL be able to integrate them once they are acquired or will Naval Group be required to assist in that?

As far as I know, the only thing missing is the Heavy Weight Torpedo (HWT). Everything else is not only fitted but proven as well. Though there are reports in the media that she is not fully equipped, I do not agree with this entirely. She has a missile and a torpedo, both of which are good. Yes, there is a plan to equip her with a more powerful modern HWT which will come in due course. But even as on date, she is not defenceless.

Once the new HWT is acquired, integration will be done in two parts. First will be the software integration of the weapon management system and second would be the physical integration of the weapon inside the submarine. By and large, such weapons systems follow the international standardisation in terms of construction; therefore, the integration, although a sensitive and complex process having issues of safety related consequences for the boat is technically well understood and implementable.

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