India’s MDL pushes out final Kalvari-class submarine

Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) has launched the sixth and final licence-built Project-75(I) Kalvari (Scorpène)-class diesel-electric attack submarines (SSKs) on order for the Indian Navy, the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 20 April.

The boat, which has been named Vagsheer, was launched on 20 April at MDL’s Kanhoji Angre Wet Basin and is part of the MoD’s Project 75 programme, which aims to bolster the Indian Navy’s underwater warfare capabilities with six modern SSKs worth around US$3 billion in collaboration with France’s Naval Group.

Vagsheer will imminently be fitted out before embarking on harbour and sea acceptance trials, and is expected to be delivered to the navy in late-2023, the MoD noted.

According to local reports citing Indian Navy sources, Vela is equipped with locally developed battery cells that power a “very silent” propulsion motor.

The Indian Navy recently commissioned into service INS Vela, the fourth boat, at a ceremony in Mumbai in November 2021. Sister boats INS Kalvari, INS Khanderi, and INS Karanj, were respectively commissioned in December 2017, September 2019, and March 2021. The fifth boat, Vagir, was launched in November 2020 and is expected to enter service around 2022.

The Indian government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) announced in March 2021 that the successful trials of a fuel cell-based air-independent propulsion (AIP) prototype would inform development of a retrofitted upgrade for the Kalvari-class SSK. The AIP system is being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation’s (DRDO’s) Naval Materials Research Laboratory (NMRL) at Ambernath in partnership with Larsen & Toubro, Thermax, and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing.

The AIP retrofit will require the hulls of the Kalvari SSKs to be cut open to insert an additional 10-metre section. Retrofit work is likely to be undertaken by MDL during the boats’ scheduled mid-life upgrade programme.

by Jr Ng