The Indian Navy’s wait for six conventional diesel-electric submarines under the project name P-75(I), is likely get extended, pushing the acquisition plans forward by almost a year. The ₹43,000 project is part of the 30-year submarine building plan of the government that began in 1999.

The latest delay in Project-75(India) (P-75(I)) is due to the stringent deadline put forth in the request for proposal (RPF) issued by the Ministry of Defence in July 2021. The government had shortlisted five foreign submarine makers who were to partner with either one of the two Indian submarine makers to produce the vessels locally.

The government had to push back the bid submission date from November 2021 to June 2022 after the majority of foreign participating companies found it difficult to meet the first deadline, a top official of India’s largest submarine builder said.

Field evaluation trials of the submarines were expected to begin in mid-April 2022 if the bids come in November itself. Further delay is expected to happen as the government is yet to issue approvals to participating foreign companies.

Vice Admiral Narayan Prasad, Chairman and Managing Director, Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders said, “Now the revised schedule for bid submission is at the end of June 2022. And whilst everyone is trying their level best, the government approvals for the respective countries have still not been fully processed and my assumption would be these are still susceptible to some more delays by a couple of months.”

Shortlisted OEMs

Naval Group, France, TKMS, Germany, JSC ROE, Russia, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, South Korea and Navantia, Spain were the shortlisted foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEM). These had to choose between Mazagon Dock Shipbuilder and Larsen and Toubro. The order for all the six submarines will go to the lowest bidder (L1) and will not be split between the two Indian companies.

If the bid submission takes place in June, it will take another two years for the government to consider it before orders are placed by the end of 2024.

“The RFP was issued in July 2021 and the timelines given for bid submission was mid November 21. RFP had very, very stringent timelines. Looking at the response from the majority of these foreign OEMs they did not find it easy going based on the timeline and the complexity of the entire program. So, they had to revise these timelines multiple times,” Prasad added.

“Who is going to be our collaborator that has not been fructified, but certainly there is a sound potential with both DSME Korea and TKMS Germany, they are the only collaborators compliant in terms of timelines as per RFP. They are yet to come up with their bid submission and we are waiting for that,” Prasad added.

INS Vagsheer

Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders has the capacity to simultaneously construct 11 submarines at its Mumbai facility. The company is presently building INS Vagsheer, which is the sixth and the last of the Kalavari-class Scorpene submarines under Project 75 (P75).

Four submarines of this class - INS Kalavari, INS Karanj, INS Khanderi, INS Vela - have been commissioned into the Indian Navy while a fifth, INS Vagir, began its sea trials earlier this month.

“Four submarines have already been delivered and the trials of the fifth submarine is going on. By the end of this year the fifth submarine will also be delivered. With regards to the sixth submarine, we are planning its launch in March or April and this vessel would be planned for commissioning somewhere in the end of 2023,” Prasad added.