INS Kavaratti: Power Punched and deadly!

Ms. Uma Kabe, Project Research Associate, Maritime History Society

“A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guarantee of peace”.

–  Theodore Roosevelt.

Promoting the ‘Make in India’ initiative, INS Kavaratti (P31), the last of the four Kamorta Class Corvettes under Project 28 (P28), was commissioned into the Indian Navy (IN) by the then Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane through a formal function held at the Naval Dockyard Visakhapatnam on 22 October 2020.[1] Designed by the Directorate of Naval Design (DND) in collaboration with a Swedish Company, the indigenous Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Stealth Corvette, is built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata at an estimated cost of 1,700 crores.[2] The hull of the ship was jointly developed by Defence Research and Development Organization and IN.[3]

Launched on 19 May 2015, the ship has derived its name after the capital of the Lakshadweep and Minicoy group of Islands, Kavaratti. After successful completion of sea trials, the vessel was delivered to the IN on 18 February 2020.[4] INS Kavaratti forms a part of the East Fleet (EF) under the Eastern Naval Command (ENC). As a frontline warship of the IN which is capable to manoeuvre efficiently at 25 knots, INS Kavaratti, the 2500-ton ASW Corvette, with a displacement of 3300 tons, is a 109-metres long vessel outfitted with integrated communication system and electronic warfare system (EWS).[5] The ship is propelled by four Diesel engines. It is equipped with cutting-edge technology, including a 76-millimetre Otomelara medium-range gun built by Bharat Heavy Electronics, torpedo tube launchers built by Larsen and Toubro, rocket launchers also built by Larsen and Toubro, indigenous surveillance radar ‘Revathi’ and a close-in weapon system. The Kavach Chaff launchers which act as decoy for incoming missiles were developed by Ordnance Factory, Ambarnath.[6] INS Kavaratti is also capable to carry aboard an ASW helicopter which is competent to maintain a forward presence. Capable to batter efficiently and effectively in any adverse environment (nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC)), INS Kavaratti with all its unique characteristics is acclaimed to be a formidable Stealth ASW Corvette. This therefore makes INS Kavaratti an effective tool for power projection for the IN as it not only has credible self-defence capability but also has good endurance for long-range deployments.[7]

The vessel is manned by a team of 12 officers and 134 sailors. INS Kavaratti is capable to fire 120 rounds per minute with a range of 8000 meters in the air and 12000 meters on the surface.[8] The warship has 12 defence surface-to-air defence missile systems and is capable for of a short-range, medium, and long-range rocket attack.[9] Apart from being equipped with torpedoes, INS Kavaratti also has been fitted with depth range rockets which form a part of its under-water weapons system.

With ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Indigenisation’ gaining importance, INS Kavaratti, with its 90% of components being Manufactured in India, is known specifically for combining the best of the skills, techniques and technologies from the best of the world. Most of the weapons and sensor suits fitted onboard the vessel are indigenously developed that highlights India’s increasing area of expertise in the field. Bharat Electronics was tasked to build most of the sensors and combat management systems for INS Kavaratti. Its unique indigenisation efforts are recognised through the utilisation of the special high strength warship-grade steel type DMR 249 A for its construction.[10] The DMR 249 A steel was developed by Steel Authority of India’s Bhilai Steel Plant.[11] Kirloskar Oil Engines on one hand were responsible for building the diesel engines that power the Corvette while on the other, Cummins and Kirloskar Electric were jointly responsible to engineer generators that supply electricity onboard.[12] Torpedo Tube Launchers and Infra-Red Signature Suppression Systems are also indigenously built systems fitted onboard INS Kavaratti.

Capable of sensing and prosecuting submarines, INS Kavaratti forms to be one of those few ships in India which are built with Composite Structure. Saab Technologies have played a stellar role in helping the Navy accomplish such an incredible feat as the superstructure was delivered to the IN by them. Saab claims that the modern high-tech laminate of carbon wire that they have used in the making of the superstructure is the lightest, yet the strongest material known to humans! This modular change therefore forms to be the best alternative available to steel and aluminium structures as apart from being lightweight it prevents corroding. This superstructure of carbon fibre composite material integrated with ships’ main metallic hull has not only helped improve the vessels stealth features but has also lowered its maintenance cost. Not known to many, the corvette’s remarkable stealthiness can be attributed in large part to the carbon fibre’s inherent ability to protect against a wide range of signals, including heat, pressure, acoustic, radar, electromagnetic radiation, and infrared radiation. The reduced Radar Cross Section (RCS) achieved by X form of superstructure along with optimally sloped surfaces strengthen the vessel’s ASW functions by lessening the emanated Underwater Noise.[13] With the current Chinese footprints growing in the region, this ASW Corvette will play a very important role to gauge the movements of Chinese Submarines lurking in the Indian Ocean Region.

‘Stealth’ forms to be one of the important characteristics of a warship as it ensures that the adversary is unable to trace the ship either below the water surface or above. This ultimately favours the vessel and the crew as they gain more time to effectively implement the necessary countermeasures. The changed superstructure has reduced the top weight of the ship as the technical betterment had ensured that the sensors and weapons are put high up in the ship. Moreover, it is easier for the vessel to achieve contractual speeds i.e., achieving high speeds through the usage of lesser/same amount of power and fuel. This has ultimately provided a boost to the composure and steadiness of the ship.

INS Kavaratti has a multitude of advanced automation systems such as Total Atmospheric Control System (TACS), Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS), Integrated Bridge System (IBS), Battle Damage Control System (BDCS) and Personnel Locator System (PLS) to provide a contemporary and process-oriented System of Systems for optimal functioning of the warship.[14]

Having a long legacy to its credit, the former Arnala Class Missile Corvette, INS Kavaratti (P-80), played a crucial role in the 1971 Indo-Pak War. She was deployed in the Bay of Bengal Theatre of Operations to effectively implement contraband control as also to mine the entrances along the Chittagong Harbour. Interdicting the Pakistani Merchant Vessel Baqir, INS Kavaratti rose to fame! True to the saying that ‘Old Ships never Die’, her commissioning back into the service boosts the morale as well as makes the force combat ready.

[1] Press Release, ‘General Manoj Mukund Naravane PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC, Chief of the Army Staff Commissions INS Kavaratti’, Ministry of Defence, accessed on 19 October 2022, retrieved through,

https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1666771.

[2] INS Kavaratti, Byjus, accessed on 20 October 2020, retrieved through

https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/ins-kavaratti-p31/

[3] IDR News Network, ‘INS Kavaratti: A Versatile Anti-Submarine Warfare Platform’, Indian Defence Review, accessed on 20 October 2022, retrieved through

http://www.indiandefencereview.com/news/ins-kavaratti-a-versatile-anti-submarine-warfare-platform/

[4] INS Kavaratti, Byjus, Ibid.

[5] Press Release, General Manoj Mukund Naravane PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC, Chief of Army Staff Commissions INS Kavaratti’, ibid.

[6] Ajai Shukla, ibid.

[7] INS Kavaratti: The Saab edge to India’s potent ASW Corvette, Saab, accessed on 19 October 2022, retrieved through,

https://www.saab.com/markets/india/stories/2021/ins-kavaratti-the-saab-edge-to-indias-potent-asw-corvette.

[8] DNA Web Team, ibid.

[9] DNA Web Team, ibid.

[10] Express News Services, ‘Indigenous Stealth Corvette INS Kavaratti commissioned into the Navy’, The Indian Expressed, accessed on 20 October 2022, retrieved through

https://indianexpress.com/article/india/indigenously-built-stealth-corvette-ins-kavaratti-commissioned-into-navy-6838271/

[11] Ajai Shukla, ‘INS Kavaratti: Why time, cost overrun are endemic to warship projects’, Business Standard, accessed on 20 October 2022, retrieved through,

https://www.business-standard.com/article/defence/ins-kavaratti-why-time-cost-overruns-are-endemic-to-warship-projects-120102200046_1.html

[12] Ajai Shukla, ibid.

[13] Press Release, General Manoj Mukund Naravane PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC, Chief of Army Staff Commissions INS Kavaratti’, ibid.

[14] Press Release, General Manoj Mukund Naravane PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC, Chief of Army Staff Commissions INS Kavaratti’, ibid.

 

 

 

 

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