New Delhi: Defence Ministry has issued a request for information (RFI) intending to lease or procure three to four Mine Countermeasure Vessels (MMCV) from a foreign government for the Indian Navy
The RFI calls for the MCMVs to be capable to locate, classify and neutralize all types of ground and moored mines, mine laying, channel conditioning, route survey, sanitization, Local Naval Defence, Search & Rescue, MIO (Maritime Interdiction Operations) and VBSS (Visit Board Search and Seize) Ops.
The Indian Government required three to four units to be procured or leased, whose first vessel should be delivered in a maximum 10 months delay. The others will follow by delivery every 4 months.
The RFI is intended to be concluded with a Government to Government Agreement for the following options:
- i)Procurement of in service/decommissioned MCMVs which can be retrofitted to Indian Navy requirements.
- ii)Lease of in service/decommissioned MCMVs, which can be retrofitted to Indian Navy requirements for 10 yrs extendable to 15 yrs with an option of acquiring the asset at the end of lease period at a price agreed at the beginning of the lease.
Regarding the specifications required, the ships should be capable of sustaining its mission for at least 10 days at economical speed (12-14 knots). MMCVs should be able to embark light weight 20/30 mm anti-surface NSG, two 12.7 mm SRCGs and very short range air defence system.
In terms of sensors, ships are to be fitted with a hull mounted sonar and a SSS for mine detection and classification.
Finally, about mine warfare capability, vessels will feature system capable of launching, recovering and guiding Expendable and/or Reusable Mine Identification & Disposal Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs), Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs)/Propelled Variable Depth Sonar (PVDS) able to operate in autonomous, semi-autonomous, supervised or in tethered mode, and capable of operating in wide range of depth from shallow to deep waters and have extended endurance.
The MCMV need is urgent in India. INS Kozhikode, a Pondicherry-class minesweeper built for the Indian Navy by the Soviet Union, was the last remaining active minesweeper but it was decommissioned on April 13, 2019. Since then, the Indian Navy is left with no dedicated mine warfare vessel in its fleet.
The Royal Navy just decommissioned two Sandown-class mine hunters. Blyth and Ramsey, however, are set to be transferred to the Ukrainian Navy. Five Sandown-class vessels remain in service with the Royal Navy.
The Belgian Navy and Royal Netherlands Navy are currently involved in a MCM replacement program (rMCM). But the calendar wont’ match the Indian Navy requirement: The first Belgian Navy Tripartite-class MCM vessels is set to be decommissioned two years from now, in 2023.
The Russian Navy is also modernizing its mine warfare capabilities with the Alexandrite-class (project 12700) mine counter measure vessel. The second-hand MCM vessels that India seeks may therefore come from Russia. The Indian Navy is a former operator of the Natya class (Project 266M). 12 ships were built for the Indian Navy in two batches between 1978 and 1988. Known as the Pondicherry-class minesweeper in Indian service, the ship design was modified to Indian specifications. All have since been decommissioned.