Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Second submarine line for Mazagon Dock


The first Scorpene hull being built at Mazagon Dock. The MoD says, two hulls are already fabricated and a third is nearing completion. The yard will complete all six hulls by 2012

(This is the second article of a four-part series on India's critical, yet significantly delayed, submarine programme)

by Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 31st Aug 10

With public sector shipyard Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL), Mumbai, years behind schedule in building six conventional Scorpene submarines for the Indian Navy, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is handing Mazagon Dock another lucrative order to build three more submarines. Although private sector shipbuilders — especially L&T and Pipavav Shipyard Ltd (PSL) — argue that Mazagon Dock already has more than it can handle, MoD insists the public sector shipyard can execute this order.

The MoD’s Secretary of Defence Production, R K Singh, talking exclusively to Business Standard, has detailed Mazagon Dock’s road map for simultaneously executing the Scorpene order (Project 75, as it is termed) and the three additional submarines that are a part of the six-submarine Project 75I order

Business Standard had reported yesterday that the MoD’s apex Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had ruled out India’s private sector from Project 75I. The first two submarines of Project 75I will be built abroad in the foreign collaborator’s shipyard. The other four submarines will be built in MoD-owned shipyards: recently acquired Hindustan Shipyard Ltd will build one, while MDL builds three.

R K Singh explains, “First, the Scorpene delay will be trimmed down to less than 18 months. The original plan was for the first Scorpene to be delivered in December 2012; and the other five submarines at one-year intervals till December 2017. While the first Scorpene will only be ready in August 2015, Mazagon Dock will deliver the others faster, at nine-month intervals, and finish the last Scorpene by May 2019.”

MoD sources say Mazagon Dock is being pushed towards an even more ambitious delivery schedule: Of one Scorpene every seven months. On August 11, Defence Minister A K Antony told Parliament that Project 75 would complete work by the second half of 2018.

But Project 75I, argues R K Singh, does not have to wait till then; it can begin as early as 2012. By that year, with all six Scorpene hulls fully built, the specialised hull workers and welders of Mazagon Dock could begin fabricating hulls for Project 75I.

Singh explains, “Two Scorpene hulls are already built and MDL is close to completing the third. By early 2012, all six Scorpene hulls will be ready. MDL’s hull fabrication shop — which cuts steel for the hull, rolls it, fabricates hull segments and then welds them together into a complete hull — will be sitting idle from 2012, and ready to be diverted to Project 75I.”

The Department of Defence Production also points out that Project 75I cannot begin for another five years. At least 12-24 months are needed for a Cabinet sanction for building the first two Project 75I submarines abroad. Selecting a foreign shipyard as collaborator for Project 75I will take another 24-36 months and then one year for price negotiations.

The six Project 75I submarines will be built on a new production line, on which work has already begun. During a visit to MDL in 2009, Business Standard was shown a 16-acre plot, adjoining MDL’s facilities in Mazagon, Mumbai, which the shipyard had acquired in the 1980s from Gujarat state PSU, Alcock Ashdown.

R K Singh confirmed, “We are going to execute Project 75I in a new yard, the Alcock Yard, on which MDL is building a second submarine production line.”

Private sector shipbuilder Larsen & Toubro finds the MoD’s decision to patronise Mazagon Dock inexplicable. L&T sources say the company was given to understand that they would participate in Project 75I as the second submarine line. Now, L&T’s experience and infrastructure would lie idle.

7 comments:

AK said...

Another CWG in making. Good luck India!

Anonymous said...

No need to blame Mazagaon dock if they are capable of building subs at faster rate. But let the private industry also build two subs (not necessarily the first two) of the P75I series and then when the next Generation of Indigenous subs start production just after that, let the private industry produce upto 6 subs and the remaining 6 be built by Mazagon. Again we will be short by 6 subs to reach the target of 30 subs. So there is space for everyone both public as well as private industry. I think the L&T can start working on the P75I right now itself and when the Scorpene is finished the Mazagaon dock build the remaining four. Also after finishing the first two let L&T go and commence the production of the Indigenous subs. All six of them and Mazagaon dock starts it after completing the remaining four of the P75I subs. The remaining six can be jointly build by MD and L&T with further improvements to the Indegenous subs.

Anonymous said...

If it will take 5 years to finalize the agreement then it wont be a parallel production line but would be built after Scorpenes. Also it does nothing to resolve the immediate sub fleet crisis.

Manne said...

Ah! Let's see the logic (or lack of it)..

"MDL’s hull fabrication shop — which cuts steel for the hull, rolls it, fabricates hull segments and then welds them together into a complete hull — will be sitting idle from 2012, and ready to be diverted to Project 75I."

What it the probability of success that MDL will have delivered all Scorpene hulls as per the revised schedule? If they have done finite resource scheduling (including MoC shipments) to come up with the revised plan then great else it is all just wishful thinking.

"The Department of Defence Production also points out that Project 75I cannot begin for another five years."

Only with respect to overseas construction. The timeline would be much shorter for L&T. Heck, if MoD is so worried about timelines what stops them from offering a risk-reward clause to L&T. But no, they'd rather wait for 5 years discussing contracts with foreigners than breeding Indian expertise!!

"At least 12-24 months are needed for a Cabinet sanction for building the first two Project 75I submarines abroad. Selecting a foreign shipyard as collaborator for Project 75I will take another 24-36 months and then one year for price negotiations."

As they say in engineering, measure with a micrometer, mark with a chalk and cut with an axe. Wow!!

"Private sector shipbuilder Larsen & Toubro finds the MoD’s decision to patronise Mazagon Dock inexplicable."

Guys, you are not alone in your bewilderment.

"L&T sources say the company was given to understand that they would participate in Project 75I as the second submarine line. Now, L&T’s experience and infrastructure would lie idle."

Much more than utilisation and RoI, it will be genuine pvt sector interest in securing the nation that will receive a severe setback. Let one person stand up and say which PSU was going to construct nuclear plants if L&T was not interested?!! These guys spent nearly a generation in gearing up for these type of projects, demonstrated it with Arihant, and now MoD kisses them goodbye and looks for phirangs.

What a shame and such a waste!

- Manne

Anonymous said...

Ajaiji, we should rise the question of buying 3 of the self (direct) submarines from Germany/France to atleast meet the immediate needs. May be U-214.

With yesterday's accident of a HDW 209, the submarine arm shrunk more.

Shailendra said...

Ha ha
GOI at its best. This happens when you make a tea stall wala defense minister.
I strongly suggest that make Mayawati or lalu or Mamta Banerji our defense minister.
Stupid never think of making a new Shipyard

Anonymous said...

it's high time that the govt allows construction at both mazagaon and L&T. With the Chinese at our doorsteps, even 30 subs will not suffice by 2020. Let every shipyard start mass production of ships and subs, we are already late.