Mazagon Dock Limited, the shipyard that manufactures warships and submarines for the Indian Navy, is producing six Scorpene submarines under transfer of technology from DCNS, a French industrial group that specialises in naval defence and energy. The first submarine (INS Kalvari) was undocked this April after much delay. All six SSK Scorpene submarines (the P75 programme) are slated to be ready to serve the nation by 2020.

DCNS is a private limited company in which the French state holds a 64 per cent stake, and Thales Group holds 35 per cent of the capital. The Group generated annual revenues of around €2.93 billion in 2013. To enable local production of the Scorpene equipment, DCNS India, DCNS Group’s subsidiary in India, has selected and is to qualify certain Indian companies as partners. Bernard Buisson, Managing Director, DCNS India, tells BusinessLine that on-the-job training in France for the first Scorpene submarine would have saved precious time, but asserts that all the teething problems have been overcome, and that the P75 programme is progressing at cruising speed. Edited excerpts:

Give us an idea about the company and its operations in India. How long has it been present in the country?

DCNS has been involved with the Indian Navy since the mid 80’s when we first participated in the preliminary design phase (a small study on feasibility study) of the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier, (INS Vikrant), now being built at the Cochin shipyard.

We are now assisting Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai to build, through comprehensive and genuine transfer of technologies, six P75 submarines. DCNS is committed to long-term partnerships and close collaboration with the Indian Navy and the local shipbuilding industry. It is for this reason that the Group set up DCNS India Private Limited, a subsidiary specialising in naval services, in March 2009.

The company is known as a leader in naval defence...

The company is a unique player in naval systems. We are the only company developing such a range of solutions with OPVs (offshore patrol vessels) to CVN (the Group has provided refuelling and complex overhaul of the aircraft carrier CVN Charles-de-Gaulle), and from SSKs (Scorpene class) to SSBNs (ballistic missile submarines) and associated services.

Give us an idea about the DCNS Scorpene submarine programme to the Indian Navy and what is its current status?

We are assisting Mazagon Dock to build six P75 submarines through transfer of know-how at unprecedented levels and are providing our Indian partners with technical assistance and transfer of technologies to manufacture equipment through indigenisation programmes.

The P75 programme is progressing well at cruising speed now. After the undocking of the first submarine on April 6, 2015, INS Kalvari was set afloat on October 29, to start harbour and sea acceptance tests.

Could you give us a take on the P75 timelines, given that the project has been running behind schedule?

One of the big constraints in this programme isthere was no On-the-Job Training (OJT) in France for the first submarine, since all six submarines are to be constructed entirely in India. OJT would have allowed a faster learning curve and saved time.

However, all initial teething problems, inevitable when any shipyard resumes manufacturing submarines after a break of many years, have been overcome, and Mazagon Dock Limited is now proceeding at a nominal pace for the construction of all the six submarines. We are confident that the timelines announced by Mazagon Dock for the commissioning of the first P75 submarine should be met, with the others being delivered at nine months intervals.