Vice Admiral Narayan Prasad is the CMD of Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (formerly Mazagon Dock Ltd or MDL). An alumnus of Sainik School Tilaiya and National Defence Academy, he holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Science from JNU and another Bachelor’s Degree in Technology (Mechanical Engineering) from JNU (Naval College of Engineering, INS Shivaji, Lonavala). He has done a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering (Marine) from University of Pune along with Master’s in Philosophy (Defence and Strategic Studies) from University of Mumbai. Prior to joining MDL, he has served Indian Navy for over 36 years, and has held several assignments afloat and onboard. Vice Admiral Prasad is a recipient of Presidential awards of Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) and NavSena Medal (NM) for his outstanding service to the Indian Navy.
In an interview to Ajit K Thakur, Editor, Raksha Anirveda, the MDL CMD delved into the details of various initiatives taken by the shipbuilding DPSU in recent time. Edited excerpts:
RA: The market response to the Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL) IPO was positive. With record IPO subscription success, we would like to get a sense of MDL’s future plans for the next five years?
Our objective is to enhance our market position by expanding our capabilities, capitalising on opportunities both in domestic and international markets in our industry and to enhance our competitiveness. Our business strategies are:
Focus on ship repair
Ongoing shipbuilding and submarine contracts have a long gestation period and as these orders were given to MDL on nomination basis, profit margins are fixed. Revenues under these contracts are dependent on achievement of certain milestones. Therefore, in order to diversify our revenue streams, we intend to increase our ship repair activities in future as such activities get executed over a shorter period of time and result in the early booking of revenues.
Augmentation of infrastructure and enhancing our manufacturing capacity
We are currently undertaking capital expenditure for our submarine and heavy engineering division by way of construction of the Submarine Launch facility.
The Submarine Launch facility, currently under construction, will enable us to launch the submarines from our yard itself and reduce our dependency on third party dry-docks. We are also leveraging the latest construction methods in order to speed up the construction of our warships.
We are also exploring the feasibility of developing a greenfield shipyard at Nhava, Navi Mumbai with a shiplift or a dry dock, wet basin, workshops, stores and buildings and a ship repair facility spread over an area of 37 acres which we believe will be suitable for construction and repair of warships and commercial ships with larger dimensions. However, a firm decision in this regard would be taken based on future order visibility.
We believe that recent augmented facilities and developments of future facilities would enable improved adherence to delivery timelines and to even compress them for future orders.
RA: Tell us about your current order book status and export portfolio. How has Covid -19 impacted MDL’s performance this fiscal?
NP: The current order book value of MDL as on July 31, 2020 is Rs 54,074 crores. Due to pandemic there will be reduction in revenue for FY 2019-20. We expect revenues to be between 70–80 per cent of the revenues for FY20. However, revenues for FY 22 should be significantly higher.
RA: Taking note of Prime Minister’s vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat, what steps are being taken by MDL to drive indigenisation across the different type and class of warships?
NP: MDL has set-up a dedicated Department of Indigenisation in October 2015 to boost and strengthen the indigenisation effort and to provide focused impetus to the Prime Minister’s vision of Make in India. To enhance the outreach to Indian Industries, a dedicated “Atmanirbhar Bharat” webpage was created on MDL website. The process of indigenisation, various items/ equipment indigenised, items required to be indigenised (EoIs) are displayed under the webpage. The webpage is being regularly updated. In addition, MDL has hosted 421 imported items of around Rs 2,000 crores on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) / Department of Defence Production (DDP) initiated website www.srijandefence.gov.in, encouraging Indian Industry to take up indigenisation of equipment.
Since setting up of Indigenisation Department, MDL has successfully indigenised some of the major items/ equipment through the Indian Industries. Indigenisation of these items has not only resulted in considerable cost savings to the exchequer but also helped India in becoming self-reliant as far as these items/ equipment are concerned. The items/ equipment are Bridge Window Glass, MCT Glands, SICADS, Asbestos free gaskets, Helo Landing Grid, AC Plants, Battery Loading Trolley, NBC Filters, etc.
RA: According to MDL, Stealth Destroyers (Project 15B-Visakhapatnam Class) is one of the world’s most technologically advanced guided missile destroyers. Kindly provide the details of the project and updates on its current status.
- P-15B Visakhapatnam Class is the follow on Destroyers of the earlier P-15A Kolkata Class Destroyers built by MDL and delivered to Indian Navy.
- The ship is vastly superior and has major advancements in weapons and sensors. The Ship incorporates new design concepts for improved survivability, stealth, sea-keeping and manoeuvrability.
- Enhanced stealth features have been achieved through shaping of hull and use of radar-transparent deck fittings. A bow mounted sonar dome, the second of its kind in an indigenous naval platform, has been introduced to enhance sonar acoustic performance.
- Ship weighs over 7,400 tonnes, spanning over 164 meters in length and 17 meters at the beam. It is propelled by four gas turbines and designed to achieve speeds in excess of 30 knots.
- The ship is packed with an array of state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, with a significant indigenous component.
- The ship has many lethal weapons to her credit which include the successful fitment of vertically launched missile system for long distance engagement of shore and sea-based targets.
- The ship’s air defence capability, designed to counter the threat of enemy aircraft and anti-ship cruise missiles will revolve around the vertical launch and long range surface to air missile system.
- The ship is loaded with long-range BrahMos surface-to-surface missile and BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles. Long range surface to air missiles.
- The Ship is equipped with MF STAR (Multi-Function Surveillance & Threat Alert Radar). This radar has 3D phased array on four walls which can track multiple threats.
- It has 76 mm Super Rapid Gun Mount (SRGM) and AK 630 Close in Weapon System (CIWS) designed to take on air and surface targets.
- Ships anti-submarine arsenal consists of Indigenous Rocket Launchers (IRL), Indigenous Twin-tube Torpedo Launchers (ITTL) and sensor (Hull Mounted Sonar, HUMSA-NG). The sensor is protected by Bow Sonar Dome. The indigenisation content in P-15B Class destroyers is approx. 72 per cent in line with the Make in India policy of the Government of India (GoI).
- It is equipped to operate two Sea King or Chetak helicopters.
- The ship has a complement of about 40 officers and 350 sailors. The accommodation and living spaces have been designed with special emphasis on ergonomics and habitability.
- The First Ship Yard 12704 (Visakhapatnam) is undergoing Harbour Trials and will shortly proceed for its Sea Trials, The Second Ship Yard 12705 (Mormugao) is at an advanced stage of outfitting and is nearing its machinery trials, Third Ship Yard 12706 (Imphal) is currently in Dry Dock for underwater work package execution. The fourth Ship Yard 12707 is at Block Erection Stage and Erection of 13 Blocks (out of 17 blocks) has been completed.
RA: Tell us about the technological advancements being incorporated in Project 17A frigates design concepts, construction methodology along with indigenous weapons and sensors. Also elaborate on its stealth character, timeline and export potential.
- The Nilgiri class Frigate or Project 17A is follow-on of the P17 Shivalik Class Frigate built by MDL for the Indian Navy.
- This multi mission frigate is capable of operating in blue water dealing with both conventional and non-conventional threats.
- Ship weighs over 6,700 tonnes, spanning over 149 meters in length and 17.8 meters at the beam. It is propelled by two gas turbines and two diesel engines and designed to achieve speeds in excess of 28 knots.
- The vessel is fitted with state-of-the-art Integrated Machinery Control System (IMCS) with an independent network interfaced with Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and Combat Management System (CMS).
- The P-17A shipbuilding project, is being built by resorting to the Integrated Construction (IC) methodology wherein the hull construction and outfitting progresses concurrently with attendant savings in the build timelines not to mention enhanced quality. This method is being implemented for the first time in the history of warship building in India wherein the conventional shipbuilding process is re-engineered with a different build strategy, detailed design, procurement process and inspection sequencing. While adopting this construction approach, MDL also fully leveraging the modernised infrastructure that has been exclusively created for the purpose.
- MDL is also progressing with the implementation of Product Data Management (PDM)/ Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) for P-17A Class Frigates. The 3D-CAD modelling software and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems will all be integrated under the PDM/ PLM which will serve as an umbrella platform thereby ensuring that the vessel data is managed during the design and construction phases as well as during the entire life cycle of the Frigate.
- Many components/ units are getting indigenised for major weapon like Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR SAM) and Multi-Function Surveillance & Threat Alert Radar (MF-STAR), Surface Surveillance Radar (SSR) and Air Early Warning (AEW) Radar. Presently the order is placed on Indian vendors, who are having a Transfer of Technology (ToT) with principal foreign OEMs with share of indigenisation of units.
- Advanced weapon and sensor suite are fitted on board the vessel and will have enhanced sleek and healthy features compared to other naval ships.
- Certain transformative design components have been adopted in P-17A ships to achieve enhanced stealth features such as covered mooring deck, Infra-Red Signature Suppression (IRSS) devices, Radar Cross Section (RCS) closures for exposed deck opening and flush deck mounted Vertical Launcher Unit (VLU) weapon system. Number of antenna on ship has been reduced by use of Multi-Function Surveillance & Threat Alert Radar (MF STAR).
- The first ship Yard 12651 of P-17A was launched on September 28, 2019, for which the outfitting activities have already started. For Second Ship, Yard 12652, hull erection/ block alignment along with outfitting activity is in progress. Third Ship Yard 12653 is currently at unit fabrication and pre-outfitting stage. Production has started for the fourth ship Yard 12654 in January 2020. The Project is expected to be delivered to the Indian Navy by 2025.
- MDL is exploring the options to export frigates to various countries.
RA. Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders has a pivotal role to play in building India’s maritime capabilities and also positioning India at the fulcrum for building global niche naval platforms and maritime collaboration. What’s your vision and how do you plan to execute this challenging role-play?
NP. MDL got nationalised in 1960, with the vision of transforming Indian Navy, from a Buyer’s Navy to a Builder’s Navy. Since then, MDL has built a total of 796 vessels including 26 warships, from advanced destroyers to missile boats and four submarines. MDL had also delivered cargo ships, passenger ships, supply vessels, multipurpose support vessels, water tankers, tugs, dredgers, fishing trawlers, barges and border outposts for various customers in India as well as abroad. On the export front, MDL has delivered 243 vessels to various foreign clients since 1960. In the past few years, MDL has delivered two Multipurpose Supply Vessels (MSV) to Mexico and Bahamas in the year 2012 and 2014 respectively.
MDL is trying to maximise geostrategic reach and to meet International demand through Exports. MDL is in constant touch with representatives of various nations at diplomatic levels. The following steps are already taken to achieve the above vision:
Identification of Product Portfolio and Services for Exports:
A wide range of products (both military and non-military) have been identified for exports. The vessels built by MDL comply with most stringent international quality standards and the exceptional performance of these vessels is a testimony to the world class quality standards.
- MDL has also submitted Request for Information (RFI) and Request for Proposal (RFP) response to various countries like Ghana, Kenya, Bangladesh, Latin American and Far East Asian countries for converting them to workable projects.
Identification of Target Countries for Exports:
- MDL has identified potential markets for export of Military and Non-military vessels taking into account the company’s present capabilities, capacities and products required by the importing country. MDL intends to focus on the following five clusters of emerging markets for exports.
- South East Asia
- West Asia (Middle East)
- Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Countries
- Latin America
- MDL has appointed 15 agents covering 38 countries to get the export related leads.
- MoD/DDP has appointed MDL as a nodal DPSU for export promotion in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Kuwait, Maldives, Peru, Qatar, South Africa, Thailand and USA.
MDL is already entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with private shipyards in the country which will serve as a backend feeder yard to MDL. In short, MDL has the capability and capacity to handle both domestic and export orders simultaneously without hurting both the verticals.