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11:07 AM, May 10, 2017
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INS Karwar and Kakinada decommissioned

India is facing scarcity of minesweepers as the country is currently left with only four, following decommission of INS Karwar and INS Kakinada.

The ships were decommissioned at the Mumbai naval dockyard Tuesday evening, out of the six minesweepers acquired from the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1986-87,

The Navy in fact needs about 24 minesweepers to effectively protect the West and East coasts, Times of India reported Tuesday.

Even though MCMVs, submarines, multirole helicopters have been in the wish list of Navy for more than a decade, it has served no purpose. The scarcity is so alarming that even if the country signs contract with South Korea for 12 MCMVs this year, the first specialized warship would roll out only by 2021.

The government has another plan to deliver 11 MCMVs, it takes nine-month intervals to complete the entire project by 2026. However, But it would require some effort.

"Price negotiations for transfer of technology of the MCMVs between Goa Shipyard and Korean shipyard Kangnam are in the final stages. Thereafter, the commercial proposal will be submitted to the defence ministry and Cabinet Committee on Security for the final approval," said an official.

"Optimistically, the entire process should take six to eight months, with the actual construction beginning in 2018," he added. The Navy, incidentally, had begun the hunt for eight MCMVs in July 2005.

But the subsequent selection process, in which Kangnam was chosen over Italian Intermarine, got enmeshed in allegations of agents and other irregularities. The tender was finally scrapped in 2014.

Then, in February 2015, the defence acquisitions council, headed by then defence minister cleared the new Rs 32,000 crore ($4.9 billion) project for construction of 12 MCMVs at Goa Shipyard with foreign collaboration.

The 1,000-tonne MCMVs are used to detect marooned and drifting mines with their high-definition sonars, acoustic and magnetic sweeps. They then use remote-controlled systems like small underwater vehicles to detonate the mines at safe distances.

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