GRSE: A Close Bond with the Indian Navy
Constantly keeping up-to-date with modern technologies, Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Limited (GRSE) has ensured that it remains a pioneer Shipyard building Warships in India. GRSE’s Chairman and Managing Director Rear Admiral V K Saxena, IN (Retd.),who had a long and distinguished career in the Indian Navy, speaks on the company’s current projects, vision and future plans.
GRSE has worked closely with the Indian Navy and Coast Guard over the years, contributing to the fleet addition. Update us on GRSE’s latest projects in this regard.
GRSE has enjoyed a strong association with the Indian Navy over the last six decades. The Shipyard has been building Warships and other vessels for the country’s Navy as well as Coast Guard and with 103 Warships successfully built, the Shipyard already achieved the distinction of constructing highest number of Warships in the country. Sixty-eight of the 103 Warships were for the Indian Navy and are varied in their range and scope. We have delivered Thirty Four Warships including Six Hovercrafts to the Indian Coast Guard. From Frigates, Missile Corvettes, Anti-Submarine Warfare Corvettes, Fleet Tankers, Landing Ship Tank, Landing Craft Utility to Survey Vessels, Offshore Patrol Vessels and Fast Attack Craft – the repertoire is rich and varied.
At present, GRSE is working on ASW Corvette, P17 Alpha Stealth Frigates, LCUs, 04 Survey Vessels (Large) and 08 Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Crafts programs for the Indian Navy and FPVs for Indian Coast Guard. The last two projects have been bagged on competitive bidding.GRSE has a strong order book of nearly US Dollars 3.75 B (Rs 27,400 Crore) equipping the Shipyard with a deep pool of revenue-generating projects.
GRSE has launched work on some crucial projects recently. Kindly explain.
The keel-laying of the 1st Advanced Stealth Frigate of P17A Project, at GRSE has been achieved well ahead of schedule. Now we are planning the keel laying of the 2nd P17A Advanced Stealth Frigate in early 2020.
Further, GRSE laid the keel of the first Survey Vessel (Large). This vessel is 110 m long with deep displacement of 3300 tonne and can accommodate 231 personnel. It will have a cruising speed of 16 knots. This first ship is part of the 04 Large Survey Vessels order won by GRSE in competitive bidding process in October 2018. The total value of the order is Rs 2,435.15 crore.
The first ship is to be delivered within 36 months from contract signing date with a project completion time of 54 months. The hull form of this new generation Survey Vessel also meets the stringent seakeeping and manoeuvring requirements including helicopter operations at high sea.
Survey Ships will have state-of-the-art payloads including Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, Remote Operated Vehicles and Multi Beam Echo Sounders. They would not only boost the Indian Navy’s capabilities for coastal and deepwater hydrographic surveys aiding maritime operations but also be capable of performing limited search and rescue, limited ocean research and operate as hospital ship or casualty holding ships.
Design work on the latest order for the 08 ASWSWCs has also commenced.
GRSE actively participates in various expos abroad as well as in India. Can you give us some details?
In pursuit of company’s goal to achieve wider markets for its products as well as attract quality OEMs / business partners GRSE participated in various exhibitions. Some of the Major Exhibitions are IDEX 2019 at Abu Dhabi from 18-19 February, ISDEF 2019 in Israel from 04-06 June, LIMA 2019 at Malaysia from 26-30 March, D&SE Bangkok 2019 from November 18-21, DSEI Japan 2019 also from November 18-21, DSEI London 2019 Exhibition in September. These exhibitions gave the Company ample exposure through publicity & coverage in media. There were representatives of industry journals / magazines, blogs and delegations from other countries who were briefed about GRSE’s Product Portfolio and Capability. The delegations were also briefed about GRSE’s Pre-fabricated Steel Bridges for exploring more export opportunities for such bridges for the requirement of Foreign Governments/ Armies. Apart from participating in Exhibitions, High Level Delegations also visited the Countries like – Egypt, Vietnam, Phillipines etc for exploring Export Opportunities in the Countries.
The Company also took part in National Exhibitions like Aero India 2019 in February at Bangalore, INMEX 2019 Exhibition in October, Goa Maritime Conclave 2019 (GMC-19) at Goa on October 4, 2019, the 23rd National Exhibition on Defence & Defence Equipments at Sodepur during August 2019, 7th Indian National Exhibition cum Fair at Patuli September, Kolkata on, 7th Biz Bridge (Engineering & Manufacturing Exhibition) in Kolkata on November. This helped garner a lot of interests among the visitors and GRSE was able to target the potential vendor/clients which can lead to partnerships or business deals in the future.
Could you enlighten us on GRSE’s technical capabilities that have made it a pioneer shipyard in the country?
Over the years, GRSE has developed capabilities for In-House Design & Shipbuilding and has made considerable contributions to the Indigenous Warship Construction Programme of our country.
GRSE has a strong Shipbuilding Division including design, construction and testing / trial sub divisions. GRSE’s Design Department has been recognised by the Department of Scientific & Research (DSIR), Ministry of Science & Technology, and Government of India and is equipped with a modernized Virtual Reality (VR) Lab. The VR Software is used as a tool to evaluate, analyze, simulate and visualize a 3-dimensional model of the ship/blocks/compartments in the design stage, enabling decision making on acceptability, ergonomics and other technical features of the final product. VR Lab helps identification of design/construction issues at early design stage thereby avoiding re-work and cutting down time and costs involved therein. Designs of Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), Landing Craft Utility (LCUs), Water Jet Fast Attack Craft (WJFACs), Inshore Patrol Vessel (IPVs) and Fast Patrol Vessel (FPVs) have been developed In-House by GRSE.
GRSE has three shipbuilding units, three engineering products manufacturing units and a dedicated Technical Training Centre. The shipbuilding units of GRSE consists of modern facilities of Dry Docks, Inclined Berths, Jetties, Wet Basin, Boat Shed, ancillary Fabrication Shops, Machine Shops and Fitting out Shops. GRSE has completed major modernization of its infrastructure facilities. The modernized shipbuilding facilities in GRSE provide modular and integrated construction of Warships akin to the best in the world. GRSE has a dedicated facility for construction of medium & small Warships at its RBD (Rajabagan Dockyard) unit which was acquired in 2006. The new facility created in GRSE is considered a state-of-the-art modern facility. With this, the shipyard has its capacity to undertake construction of 20 ships / vessels (8 Large Ships and 12 Medium & Small Ships) concurrently. The shipyard is further in the process of expanding its capacity to construct over 24 vessels concurrently.
Could you explain to us GRSE’s initiatives to support the Central Government’s ‘Make in India’ programme?
As part of Make in India initiatives of Ministry of Defence, GRSE has made commendable progress by successfully incorporating a high percentage of indigenous content into the ships.
INS Kamorta and INS Kadmatt, the first two of class of 4 ASW corvettes, became the first warships built in the country with indigenously developed warship grade steel-DMR 249a. These ships have the distinction of achieving over 90 % indigenous equipment fit and hence a major step towards achieving self-reliance in state of the art Warship design and construction.
INS Kiltan, which was delivered to Indian Navy in October 17, has the unique feature of superstructure made of carbon fibre composite material. It is for the first time in the country that such a composite material has been integrated with steel hull of a ship and GRSE is the first shipyard in the country to have successfully achieved this feat. Regarding the Landing Craft Utility (LCU) Class of Ships delivered so far, over 90% Indigenous Equipment fit has been achieved.
The LCU ships are fully designed in house as per requirements specified by Indian Navy with over 90% indigenous content. The yard has achieved 70 % Indigenous Equipment fit in construction of four follow on WJFACS and 72 % Indigenization of the rail less auto tensioning winch wire helicopter traversing system on board 3rd ASW Corvette, INS Kiltan. This has helped GRSE win the confidence of all stakeholders.
GRSE has also entered into a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with M/s Cooper Corporation, India for development and manufacturing of small size (50 – 500 kw) engines for marine application such as diesel alternators onboard Naval/ Coast Guard Platforms.
Outsourcing of non- core activities to private players is a business strategy adopted by the company which has helped to optimize the cost of production and aided in focusing & improving efficiencies in the core activities of design and production.
GRSE has recently achieved a milestone by building and launching over 100 warships, becoming the first shipyard in India to achieve this feat. Tell us more about this development.
GRSE’s amazing voyage that started in 1884 as a small river steam workshop saw the firm’s nationalization in 1960 and GRSE has since delivered an astounding 103 warships as on Dec 2019. Starting from India’s first Seaward Defence Boat INS Ajay in1961, this eventful journey of close to 60 years has seen over 780 vessels of various kinds – ranging from 5 ton boats to 24,600 ton Fleet Tankers – being delivered to the Indian Navy and Coast Guard. These include a record 05 Warships handed over to the Navy in a space of 10 months. We have achieved the unique distinction of being the first Indian Shipyard to deliver 100 Warships on 30 Mar 19 when we delivered the 6th LCU, IN LCU L-56 to Indian Navy with Gun Trials completed. The 103rd warship, a Landing Craft Utility (LCU), was the 7th of an order of eight such vessels for the Indian Navy was delivered on 11 Dec 19.
Could you enlighten us about GRSE’s position in the global shipbuilding industry?
GRSE has created a niche for itself in warship building in the national arena as a premier shipbuilder and has been competing in global tenders. We are building the state-of-the-art P17A Advanced Stealth Frigates using Modular Construction Technology in accordance with International Best Practices. The expertise developed over the years both in terms of design capabilities and production acumen, augurs well for GRSE’S strong footprint to continue growing in the future too.
Can you speak to us about GRSE’s interventions in the South-East Asian, West Asian and Latin American markets for defence exports?
GRSE is certainly looking actively to export to friendly countries. The first-ever warship built in India for export was CGS Barracuda an offshore patrol vessel for the government of Mauritius in 2014 was made by GRSE. The shipyard’s pre-fabricated steel bridges being built by the engineering division have been exported to countries like Bhutan, Nepal, and Myanmar and Sri Lanka. With persistent efforts, and with the support of the government, we are sure that more warship orders shall come our way.
Apart from building ships, GRSE’s engineering division manufactures several other products. Could you enlighten us in this regard?
The engineering division develops and manufactures portable steel bridges, suspension type pre-fabricated steel bridges, marine pumps, rail-less helicopter traversing systems, boat davits, anchors, mooring and dock capstans, anchor windlass and winches.
Portable bridges are designed to allow a bridge to be completely erected on rollers from one side of the gap to be bridged, and then launched across to the other side, without the use of any support within the gap. It is of particular use in providing access in far-flung areas and hilly terrain and also provides quick restoration of communication where existing road or bridge connectivity has been destroyed by natural disasters. Through this product, there is an intention to enhance export potential in countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar among others.
GRSE has been developing, designing, manufacturing and supplying both, electro hydraulic as well as electric deck machinery equipment, meeting different class requirements. The engineering division has manufactured for the first time in India, a telescopic helicopter hangar for housing helicopters, on-board naval vessels, the first of which was installed on INS Investigator. The deck machinery item’s product range includes windlass/anchor capstans, dock capstans, deck cranes, boat davits, special purpose winches, steering gears, electro hydraulic deck cranes and specialized products like the rail-less and rail-based helo traversing system, which are designed and built to meet customer specific requirements to support individual vessels. Deck machinery items for the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, public and private shipyards and GRSE’s own shipbuilding division, are also produced.
The marine pump product of the engineering division undertook the development of indigenized centrifugal pumps in order to replace Russian origin pumps. These pumps have been designed in-house, and the designs have been vetted and verified by the society of turbo-machinery for SNF/ SNM class naval ships and EKM type submarines for the Indian Navy, which are certified by Eastern Naval Command. After completion of the indigenization process, various types of pumps have also been supplied to the Indian Navy for replacement/refurbishment of a variety pumps on-board Naval Ships and has so far developed and delivered ten (10) types of pumps that were taken up for indigenization and development. Different models of pumps can be utilized for supplying different ranges of pumps by making suitable modifications on operating parameters as may be required.
What are GRSE’s expansion plans for Rajabagan dockyard?
GRSE believes that the modern infrastructure facilities available at its Shipyard coupled with its vast expertise, gives it a significant edge over other Domestic Defence Shipyards.
Presently, GRSE has three separate facilities for shipbuilding, all of which are located in close vicinity of each other in Kolkata, India. The ships are built at the main works unit and the Rajabagan Dockyard. The third facility, the FOJ unit is primarily used for fitting out and repair of ships. The Rajabagan Dockyard was acquired from Central Inland Water Transport Corporation limited in the year 2006. Rajabagan Dockyard is spread over 31.15 acres with a 550 m open river front in Kolkata, India, and is capable of pre-launch activities of three Small/ Medium sized ships and post-launch outfitting of 4 ships at a time at open river. The facilities at Rajabagan Dockyard include two dry docks and two outfitting jetties.
To further increase construction capacity, the Rajabagan Dockyard facilities are further being upgraded over the next two years for the construction of Six Small and Medium Ships.