Indian Navy submarine docks in Indonesia for the first time

One of the Indian Navy’s 3,000-tonne Sindhughosh-class (Russian-made Project 877EKM ‘Kilo’-class) diesel-electric submarines, INS Sindhukesari, made a port visit in Jakarta between 22 and 24 February, marking the first time that an Indian submarine has docked in Indonesia.

Both Indonesian Navy (TNI-AL) and the Indian Navy announced on their respective social media channels that the crew had “highly enriching engagements” and that the visit had strengthened bilateral relationships between the two countries.

INS Sindhukesari had arrived at Jakarta’s Tanjung Priok port after transiting the Sunda Strait, which connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean, on what the Indian Navy calls an operational turnaround (OTR) following a deployment.

INS Sindhukesari is also the first of the Indian Navy’s Sindhughosh-class boats to have undergone a second refit and life-extension programme that saw the installation of considerable indigenous systems. Work was carried out in Severodvinsk between 2016 and 2018.

The Indian Navy originally acquired 10 Sindhughosh-class boats, but the type has been whittled down to seven following several serious incidents including a dockyard explosion that sank INS Sindhurakshak in August 2013 and the transfer of INS Sindhuvir to Myanmar in 2020, which was subsequently renamed UMS Minye Theinkhathu.

The service also operates other conventional submarines including four ageing Shishumar-class (HDW Type 209/1500) submarines that are in urgent need of replacement. However, its submarine capability has been boosted in recent years with five of six Kalvari (Scorpène)-class diesel-electric submarines being commissioned.

The most recent boat, INS Vagir, was commissioned in a ceremony held at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai on 23 January. All the Kalvari-class boats are licence-built by state-owned Mazagon Dockyard Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) in Mumbai in partnership with France’s Naval Group.

New Delhi is planning to procure six additional submarines equipped with air-independent propulsion (AIP) technology as a follow-on programme to the Kalvari class.

The service also operates nuclear-powered submarines, the indigenously built Arihant-class ballistic missile submarine as well as a leased Russian Akula-class attack submarine.

by Jr Ng