New Delhi: With a view to strengthen security at ports and protect warships, Indian Navy is exploring alternative methods with plans to procure a new class of mine hunting warships — which have been in the works since 2005 but seen a limited movement.
The government has been considering various out of the box solutions to enhance security in ports which include procurement of unmanned vessels and underwater systems to protect warships, besides the induction of ‘clip on’ suites that can be used by individual vessels.
The Navy is looking for solutions that could involve autonomous systems that are being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as well as foreign vendors, sources said.
Left without a single mine counter measure vessel in its fleet after the decommissioning of the INS Kozhikode in April, the Navy has ordered special suites for some of its warships – sensors that can be fitted to provide limited mine detection capability. These ‘solo suites’ could also be increased in the future.
The Navy’s experience with adding mine hunting vessels has been bitter, with several rounds of setbacks. The government has nominated Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) for the Rs 32,000-crore project to construct 12 mine hunters but the yard has been unable to decide on a foreign technology partner.
Minesweepers are specialised warships that are used to clear harbours and other critical areas of mines laid by enemy submarines or vessels.
GSL made another attempt in 2018 to rope in a foreign collaborator, with responses received from Italy and Russia but a final choice has not been made. Sources said that some technical requirements that were seen as being too restrictive are now being eased up to ensure a more competitive process with multiple bidders.