India’s shipbuilding prowess has experienced a remarkable acceleration, fueled by advancements in technology, design software, modern construction techniques, and a burgeoning domestic manufacturing base. This surge in shipbuilding is evident as over 60 warships and submarines are currently under construction across multiple shipyards in the country. Among these, two significant classes of warships stand out — the Nilgiri class stealth frigates and the Visakhapatnam class guided missile destroyers, both of which symbolize India’s focus on ‘Make in India’ and technological self-reliance.
Excluding the INS Vikrant, the aircraft carrier commissioned in August of the previous year, the Nilgiri class and the Visakhapatnam class mark the culmination of India’s naval manufacturing achievements. What sets these warships apart is not just the cutting-edge weaponry they will carry but the speed at which they are being constructed.
Around a decade ago, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) embraced the concept of ‘integrated construction’ for warships. This innovative approach involves designing various segments of a ship, including its hull, superstructure, and internal systems, to be constructed as separate blocks. These blocks are then meticulously assembled to form the ship’s complete structure in a seamless manner.
In the last five to six years, shipyards have witnessed the augmentation of new infrastructure, the establishment of efficient supply lines, and the integration of artificial intelligence to optimize the construction sequence. Collaborations between the Navy’s Warship Design Bureau (NDB) in New Delhi and shipbuilders have led to a strategic approach of integrating maximum equipment before a warship is launched at sea, while the outfitting of equipment is completed later. This approach ensures that a ship’s capacity in water is verified and prevents extended dry dock occupation, balancing the need for timely construction and operational requirements.
Presently, about 37% of a warship’s construction is completed by the time it is launched at sea. The target is to enhance this figure to 40%, illustrating the evolution of efficient production timelines. Each construction block, weighing approximately 250 tonnes, is meticulously designed to accommodate cabling and piping, allowing for a seamless connection when two blocks are welded together.
The dynamic shift in India’s shipbuilding landscape showcases not only technological advancements but also a holistic approach to enhancing maritime capabilities. The Nilgiri and Visakhapatnam class warships symbolize the nation’s dedication to boosting its naval strength through innovative practices and indigenous manufacturing. As India accelerates its pace in warship construction, it emerges as a formidable contender in the realm of maritime security and defense.
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