PMO raps Defence Ministry over delay in $3.75-b Scorpene submarine project

Nayanima Basu New Delhi | Updated on January 30, 2018 Published on January 30, 2018

Making India proud INS Khanderi, which was launched in January, is now undergoing sea trials   -  Prashant Nakwe


Miffed with inordinate delays in the delivery of six Scorpene-class submarines to the Indian Navy under the $3.75-billion P75 programme, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has rapped the Defence Ministry for not taking stringent action against Naval Group of France (formerly DCNS) and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL).

As a result, in an “unusually strong step”, a high-powered team from the Defence Ministry, led by Joint Secretary and Acquisition Manager (Maritime Systems), Ravi Kant, was sent to Paris last week to “engage with the vendors and communicate unhappiness of the Indian government on continuing delays on the project”, sources told BusinessLine.

Further delay

The MoD team, which came back from France last weekend, found out that the entire project, which has already been delayed by six years, will face additional two years hold-up mainly due to procedural issues in the procurement of equipments that are used in building the submarines, sources said.

Apparently, the Defence Ministry has told the Naval Group and MDL that the delay is “unacceptable”. Even if all issues get sorted, it will be at least 2023 by the time Navy gets the final sixth submarine, sources added.

So far, only the first submarine – Kalvari – out of the six submarines that are being built in MDL, under technology transfer from Naval Group, was inducted into the Navy’s fleet in September 2016.

The P-75 programme was approved in 2005 and the first submarine was orignially scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in 2012, and final and the sixth one, by 2016.

While the second submarine – Khanderi – was launched in January 2017 and is now undergoing sea trials, the third, Karanj, will be launched on Wednesday in Mumbai by Sunil Lanba, the Chief of Naval Staff.

Data breach

Due to delay in equipment from France, delivery of fourth, fifth and sixth submarines are likely to be further delayed by two years. Additionally, the programme also suffered a “major setback” in the wake of critical data leak of the Indian submarine from Naval Group, an issue which has raised concerns within the Defence Ministry, sources said.

The Naval Group got hit by a massive data leak in 2016, in which sensitive data of the submarines was leaked, which almost jeopardised the Scorpene programme in India.

Sources in Naval Group stated that the initial delay is indeed “justifiable”, considering the complexity of the project and the fact that all the submarines were built in India for the first time.

Meanwhile, the request for a follow-on order to built three or more submarines under the P75 programme by MDL and Naval Group floated last year has also been stalled by the Defence Ministry.

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Published on January 30, 2018
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