The delay in induction of India’s new class of attack submarines has forced the Navy to upgrade six of its oldest submarines under the Major Refit and Life Certification (MRLC) programme.
Four Sindhughosh-class (Russian Kilo) and two Shishumar-class (German HDW) submarines are to be engaged in ‘life extension and refit’ programmes, at a cost of INR 1,000 crore (US$ 155 million) per boat, The Hindu reports Wednesday.
INS Sindhukesari, INS Sindhuraj, INS Sindhuratna, INS Sindhughosh, INS Shishumar and INS Shankush have been identified for MRLC programme.
“The Navy has opted to upgrade its existing fleet,” said sources. “Time and cost overruns and controversies have delayed the induction of the six Scorpene submarines. By the time all the Scorpenes join the fleet, the oldest will have completed its tenure. The service life of a submarine typically varies between 25-30 years”.
Noting that all units of the Indian Navy follow a comprehensive operational-cum-refit cycle, sources said the MRLC programme, under which a submarine is refitted with the latest technology and naval systems, will normally take about 24-27 months.
INS Sindhukesari is currently undergoing repair in military shipyard Zvyezdochka in Russia, part of United Shipbuilding Corporation. Officials said that for the Sindhukesari, the MRLC contract was inked on October 14, 2015, at a cost of ₹1,197 crore. “The submarine is currently undergoing MRLC at Russia's Zvyezdochka shipyard and is expected to sail back to India this October after the refit, which will make it sturdy for another 10 years,” said sources.
Similary, other submarines are also undergoing the MRLC at an Indian yard with assistance from Russia’s Zvyezdochka shipyard.
For Sindhughosh, an Indian shipyard with Russian OEM’s assistance is to carry out the refit in 2020.
Sources pointed out the MRLC of Shishumar is being planned to be undertaken at Mumbai's Mazagaon Dock with a German OEM. “Assistance will be provided by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems of Germany. The company has submitted its budget in August 2016, and a RFP is likely to be issued soon,” sources said.
In the case of MRLC of Shankush, an Indian shipyard with OEM and assistance from Mazagaon Dock will be undertaken in 2020-2021.