The Indian Navy is looking to lease two vessels to fill gaps in its current fleet. While a vessel will be leased to serve as both Deep Submergence Rescue Vessel (DSRV) mothership as well as submarine tender, the second vessel will be a tanker to refuel Indian naval ships at sea.
The DSRV mothership – submarine tender requirement has come up due to delays in delivery of Diving Support Vessels (DSV) by Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Visakhapatnam. The two DSVs were supposed to be delivered in 2022 and 2023. However, the two vessels, named Nistar and Nipun, were concurrently launched only in September 2022. The delays were caused partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The mothership-tender is to be leased for a period of four years according to an RFP released in December 2022. This follows an RFI released in September 2022. The ship will function as a DSRV mothership until the DSVs are inducted, after which it will function as a submarine tender. This is significant as India does not have an operational submarine tender.
The requirements for the temporary tender are that the ship should not have been built earlier than 2008. The ship must have a deck area of 570 square meters and have equipment and structural resilience to support DSRV operations. The vessel must also be capable of being equipped with systems to communicate with submarines.
Meanwhile, the lease of a fleet tanker indicates that the long delayed project to build five fleet support ships at HSL with technology transfer from Anadolu Shipyard in Turkey has stalled. Each ship was planned to weigh 45,000 tons. The project would have cost over $2 billion. However, even after years of negotiations and changing timelines, the contract has not yet been signed. Geopolitical tensions between Turkey and India are expected to have contributed to this.
The requirements outlined for the tanker indicate that it should not have been built earlier than 2003 and the vessel should be capable of transferring between 5000 and 30,000 tons of fuel. It is expected that the three year lease would primarily be spent on India’s western seaboard.
The path ahead for India’s fleet support vessel program remains unclear.
Cover Image: INS Amba (@AshTheWiz)