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INS Betwa ready to join Navy

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Naval officers during an inspection of INS Betwa, the latest guided missile frigate at the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers in Kolkata on Monday. — Parth Sanyal

Kolkata , July 5

The Rs 700-crore advanced, mostly indigenous, frigate - INS Betwa — for Western Navy is ready to be commissioned at the docks of Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) here.

Captain Ratnakar Ghosh, Warship Production Superintendent of the Indian Navy's overseeing team, said on board the INS Betwa that after half a dozen trial sailings on the Hoogly river and the high seas, the 95 per cent indigenous warship is now ready for formal handover to the Indian Navy later this week.

The Brahmaputra class frigate, second in the series of three such warships, has advanced guided missiles, electronic detection/counter measure systems for underwater, on surface and air engagements. The Russian Uran missiles would be a few foreign elements in the warship. INS Betwa would also carry and allow one-by-one landing of two helicopters too.

Captain Ghosh said INS Beas, the third in the Brahmaputra frigate series, would be ready in early 2005.

According to the perspective plan, in the next 10 years, GRSE would produce 12 ships including INS Beas.

The others would be 4 anit-submarine Corvettes costing between Rs 700 crore and Rs 800 crore each, three large landing ship tanks costing around Rs 350 crore each and four fast attack craft costing around Rs 60 crore to 70 crore each.

Commodore P. Sengupta, Naval Officer-in-charge in West Bengal, said the Indian Navy was currently stressing on two aspects — indigenous and high tech warships and equipment package.

The stealth frigates with reduced detectability, which are to be commissioned in the next couple of years, and the Delhi class destroyers, would be milestones for Indian warship-building history which began with INS Nilgiris in the 1970s.

Commodore Sengupta pointed out that the three warship building docks under the Defence Ministry — at Kolkata, Kochi and Mazagon — have undertaken high-tech engineering projects to build fully Indian warships and equipment. A few acquisitions are also slated to arrive from Russia.

Commodore Sengupta also pointed out that the delay in case of INS Betwa was mainly due to fitment of several electronics devices for which engineering or reverse-engineering were to be carried out for small spares which were not available in the country. "However, these were teething troubles". He was confident that having gone through the process and clearly established the production path, the way forward now would be less troublesome for India naval shipbuilding.

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