INS Kolkata — India’s indigeneous destroyer
The Indian navy’s enhanced role in a surging economy
All naval assets are incredibly expensive, difficult to procure, and cumbersome to maintain. So, not all countries can fancy having ‘blue-water’ navies. India has already taken some important steps in this regard. The acquisition of the aircraft carrier and nuclear submarines is one of them. But, sustaining the tempo of building naval power needs massive investment. This is possible only if the country can afford to set aside the required funds for navy. The problem as another dimension. Read on …..
The commissioning in Mumbai of INS Kolkata, the indigenously-built destroyer has conveyed one important message loud and clear. The message is about India’s intention to project its naval presence well beyond its shores. The task in hand is to safeguard the maritime routes of the Indian Ocean.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech on the occasion of the commissioning of INS Kolkata had some salient features that must have been noted by strategic experts in India and abroad. He made it clear that bolstering India’s naval capabilities is pegged to its economic growth. An economically vibrant nation will see its external trade burgeoning. It is therefore incumbent for the country to guard the seas to stave off threats from pirates and the navies of hostile countries. Mr. Modi underlined this in quite succinct language. INS Kolkata would play a big role in the flotilla of ships which will be tasked with this responsibility.
All naval commanders know how wide is the navy’s role in times of both war and peace. Navy’s acquisition of assets and training of personnel are done keeping in view the wide array of duties it has to do. These include safeguarding the country’s off shore and onshore oil assets and keeping the incoming and out- going oil –laden ships out of the harm’s way. Transit routes from the Persian Gulf must be safe and remain unclogged round the year.
Increasing danger from pirates in recent years has underscored the need for a deterrent spot-and-destroy naval capability. In times of natural disasters such as the 2004 Tsunami, the navy remains the only recourse for organizing rescue operations. The smaller littoral states of the Indian Ocean look forward to India for help during such times of natural calamity. The continuing upheavals and internal strife in West Asia is a big concern because of large Indian diaspora in these countries.
Organizing ant-piracy, rescue and evacuation operations in a large scale calls for co-ordinated action of the navy, air force, civil aviation, and navy, with the navy bearing the brunt of the stress. The oil platforms off the Indian coasts need protection against terror attacks, or in the event of a full-blown war.
The commissioning of INS Kolkata has demonstrated India’s capabilities to build large naval ships. In the very near future, two more ships — INS Kochi and INS Chennai will be ready for induction. The Brahmos cruise missile, made in India with Russian collaboration has added a very potent to the navy’s armoury. Apart from this, the deployment of multi-function phased-array radar has augmented navy’s capabilities. This radar can track and destroy several targets simultaneously. The indigenously developed torpedoes have added teeth to the navy’s combat capabilities. It is now clear that India is moving apace in building high-tech naval weaponry. Sadly, submarine fleet looks lugubrious thanks to the many accidents in the recent past. This should engage the naval planners’ attention. INS Vikramaditya has to be supplemented with another one or two sister ships. This will necessitate diversion of large funds for navy. Can the country afford it?