The 118-meter long vessels with around 7,650-ton displacement capacity will facilitate various activities such as submarine rescue, underwater inspection, testing or salvage, and recovery of objects/ships/aircraft lost at sea. The vessels will be manufactured by the state-owned Hindustan Shipyard Limited.
In next three years, the Indian Navy will add two indigenous diving support vessels to augment its submarine support operations in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), India's Defense Ministry said on Wednesday.
"The diving support vessels are also equipped with a deep submergence rescue vessel, which significantly enhances its submarine rescue capabilities," a statement issued by the Defense Ministry reads.
In 2013 and 2014, the Indian Navy lost two of its "Kilo" class submarines — INS Sindhurakshak and INS Sindhuratna with a large number of sailors on board. It is considered that the Indian Navy lost many of its sailors in the accidents mainly due to the absence of modern rescue vessels that support deep sea diving for a prolonged period. The activity requires a suitable platform for their launch and recovery, as well as for carriage of related tools and equipment.
The Indian Navy recently added a non-tethered deep submergence rescue vessel, capable of effecting submarine rescue up to depths of 650 meters from British firm James Fisher Defence. The second deep submergence rescue vessel is expected to be delivered by the end of this year.
"While a submarine is a significant strategic asset, it is also vulnerable to action damage, requiring extensive diving for undertaking search and rescue (SAR) operations that demand the availability of a credible and suitably equipped platform. Induction of two diving support vessels would go a long way in enhancing the Indian Navy's capability and reach of submarine rescue operations in the Indian Ocean Region," the Defense Ministry added.
Meanwhile, India's main competitor in the IOR, China, earlier this month started the construction of world-class offshore salvage vessels in the eastern city of Qingdao that will expand China's deepwater operating capacity from 3,000 to 6,000 meters. Being built by the state-owned Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry Group Company, the vessel will support pipe laying at 3,000 meters and deepwater hoisting at 6,000 meters, according to a report published by Xinhua.