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‘Plans afoot to augment capacity for Scorpene construction'

The Indian Scorpenes are being built at Mazagon Dock Limited.

MUMBAI (PTI): State-owned shipyard Mazagon Dockyards Limited (MDL) has said that capacity augmentation will help it reduce delays in the delivery of the first of the six Scorpene class submarines to nine months.

The diesel-electric Scorpenes are currently being built in a single workshop at the yard and plans are afoot to make a second workshop operational by 2013, MDL chairman and managing director Vice Admiral (retd) HS Malhi told reporters here.

"There will be two lines of submarine construction instead of the one (at present). So you will have two workshops simultaneously making submarines and getting launched from different venues. This way we will be able to compress time schedules," he said.

As per the original schedule, first of the six submarines was to be delivered in December next year and, thereafter, one each every year till December 2017.

But about a couple of years ago, the Defence Ministry had said the first of the six submarines is expected to be delivered by the second half of 2015 due to problems in the absorption of complex technology, augmentation of MDL infrastructure and procurement of material.

At present, construction work of all the six Scorpene submarines, which is being done in collaboration with the French, has started and MDL will meet the targeted timeline of August 2015 for the delivery of the first submarine, Malhi said.

However, he admitted that the delivery of the last of the submarines will be delayed by nine months to September 2018, as against the target deadline of December 2017.

The second workshop will be operational from the fourth submarine stage and will help in getting the delivery schedules compressed, Malhi said.

On future projects, he said even as MDL prepares for delivery of the first batch of six scorpenes to the Navy, it is ready to take up building the next series in the Scorpene class, code named Project 75-I.

Hull fabrication facilities will go idle by the end of 2012 by when all the six Scorpenes will go for outfitting and, hence, MDL will be in a position to take up a new project.

"Project 75-I can commence while the P-75 (the six Scorpenes) is going into the outfitting stage and getting completed," he said.

Besides the new workshop for the Scorpenes, Malhi said the MDL has also undertaken a modernisation project which will help in bringing down delivery time for warships.

As part of the programme, MDL is erecting a 300-tonne crane, a wet basin close to the water front and other workshops that will help it carry out integrated construction of vessels.

According to a senior MDL official, the entire project will be over by next December.

The yard has bagged a Rs 29,345-crore order from the Navy to build four warships as part of the Project 15 Bravo destroyers which will include ships identical to the already operational INS Delhi-class destroyers, Malhi said.

The key thing for MDL, he said, is to reduce delays in delivery rather than worry about the costs. He also dismissed allegations of cost escalations saying ships which MDL makes are cost effective considering the superior weapon systems and higher tonnage which it offers.


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