In a major boost to India’s long-standing ambition to improve India’s maritime strength and flexibility of operations, the Kolkata-class destroyer ‘INS Chennai‘ has been commissioned and will join India’s Western Naval Command. At a glittering function held in Mumbai, the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar inducted INS Chennai into the naval fleet and dedicated it to the service of the nation. The INS Chennai is India’s third indigenously-designed guided missile destroyer, with sisters INS Kolkata and INS Kochi. From now on, November 21 will be a red-letter day for the “Make in India” initiative, especially in defence manufacturing.
The INS Chennai will be placed under the operational and administrative control of the Flag Officer, Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command. On completion of some additional sea trials of ship-borne systems, it will be assigned to the Western Fleet and will not only bolster the Western Naval Command’s ability to launch guided missiles in stealth mode but also enable the launching of anti-submarine, anti-air and anti-surface operations. The INS Chennai is the last of the three ships to be built under Project 15A, with the other two being the INS Kolkata and the INS Kochi. The INS Kolkata was the first to be commissioned, in 2014. Manufactured by Mazagaon Dock Shipbuilders Limited, Mumbai, this new addition is among the largest destroyers constructed in India having a length of 164 meters and displacement of over 7,500 tonnes.
The INS Chennai is expected to sail with the Sanskrit motto ‘Shatro Sanharaka‘, meaning ‘Vanquisher of Enemies’. The motto epitomises the warrior spirit and strong resolve of the ship and her crew to prevail and succeed in combat.
WHERE THE INS CHENNAI IMPRESSES
In line with other modern naval ships, the INS Chennai features a high level of automation with sophisticated digital networks that include ATM-based Integrated Ship Data Network (AISDN), Combat Management System (CMS), Automatic Power Management System (APMS) and Auxilliary Control System (ACS). The ship is a potent platform capable of undertaking a variety of tasks and missions, spanning the full spectrum of maritime warfare. Armed with the supersonic surface to surface indigenous`BrahMos` cruise missiles and `Barak-8` long-range surface to air missiles (LRSAM), the ship possesses formidable prowess of missile technology. The undersea warfare capable boasts of indigenously developed anti-submarine weapons and sensors, prominently the Hull Mounted Sonar (HUMSA-NG) or the Hull-Mounted Sonar Array – New Generation), Heavyweight Torpedo Tube Launchers, Rocket Launchers and Towed Array sonar capabilities. For defence against enemy missiles, the ship is fitted with `Kavach` chaff decoy systems and for defence against enemy torpedoes, it is fitted with the`Mareech` torpedo decoy system, both developed indigenously in India. There is some very impressive wordplay at work here, for ‘Mareech’ was a character in the Ramayana who could easily shape-shift. The ship is designed to carry and operate up to two multi-role helicopters too, which is mostly expected to be a Sea King and an HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) Dhruv.
The ship is propelled by a powerful Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) propulsion plant, consisting of four reversible gas turbines, which enables it to achieve a top speed of over 30 knots (approximately 55 km per hour).
The ship`s crest depicts the outline of the iconic Fort Saint George at Chennai in the background, a part of the adjacent beach in front, and a sloop on blue and white waves in the background.
A STRONGER INDIA
These destroyers are a follow-on of the Project 15 Delhi-class destroyers but are considerably more capable due to major improvements in the design, the addition of substantial land-attack capabilities, and the fitting-out of modern sensors and weapons systems. Concept and function for Project 15A were framed by the navy’s Directorate of Naval Design, while the detailed design was developed by Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL).The Kolkata class has suffered consecutive delays, slow construction procedures and technical problems which saw the first ship of the class enter service during mid-2014. The delays in the construction programme have been attributed to persistent design changes made by the Indian Navy to incorporate new weapons systems and sensors, failure by a Ukrainian shipyard to deliver the ship’s propellers and shafts and the contract later being awarded to a Russian firm, and finally the delay in the delivery of the Barak 8 anti-air missiles, which are still in the final stages of completion with Israel Aerospace Industries and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The intricate power supply management is done using APMS, and remote control and monitoring of machinery are achieved through the ACS. The country has once again been made proud by its indigenous capabilities.