Military


Project 17 Shivalik Class Frigate

Under Project 17, the Indian Cabinet approved the construction of a new stealthy multi-role surface ship in 1997. This was the first indigenous program to build ships with stealth features and it called for the eventual construction of 12 ships. In 1997, the Indian Government approved the order for three frigates and the Letter of Intent was released to the shipbuilders Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai in February 1998. The Directorate of Naval Design (DND) framed the initial design for the Project 17 Class frigates. The detailed designs were prepared by the Mazagon Dock Ltd.

The Indian Navy ordered the first 3 ships in 1999. Production began in 2000 due to the delays on account of changes in the hull steel specifications, and delivery delay of high-strength D-40S steel from Russia. To overcome the steel supply problems, the required AB-grade steel was indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Steel Authority of India, which will help later generation warships.

Defence PSU Mazagon Dock Ltd began to build the vessels in 122 modules. In July 2001, the keel of the first frigate was laid, and it was launched and named Shivalik on 18 April 2003. In February 2009, the frigate underwent sea trials before being commissioned into the Indian Navy in April 2010.

The keel of the second frigate, Satpura, was laid in October 2002 and launched on 04 June 2004. At that time the frigates were anticipated to cost Rs 1,000-crore. Mrs Harveen Krishnaswamy, wife of Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy, Chief of Air Staff, launched India's second stealth warship, INS Satpura, being built indigenously at the Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL). An impressive function held at Mazagon Dock Limited on the occasion was attended by Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy and Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Madhvendra Singh and his wife, Mrs Kaumudi Kumari. Vice Admiral Madanjit Singh, FOC-in-C, Western Naval Command Rear Admiral RM Bhatia, Chairman and Managing Director, MDL and senior Naval officers were also present in the inaugural ceremony. INS Satpura is the second of the Shivalik class stealth frigates.

In his welcome address, Rear Admiral RM Bhatia said that the P-17 frigates represent a major landmark in showcasing the indigenous warship design and manufacturing capability resulting from a close co-operation between Mazagon Dock and the Indian Navy. INS Satpura was scheduled for commissioning into the Indian Navy by September 2007, and later it was planned that INS Shivalik would be commissioned in the spring of 2009, followed by the second one eight months later and the third one another eight months after that. By the middle of 2010, all the three ships would have been delivered to the navy.

In March 2009 there was a delay to India's Project 17 stealth frigate, INS Shivalik, because General Electric (GE) had failed to get permission from the US government to install its gas turbine engines on the warship. It was commissioned in August 2011.

Though the keel for Shivalik, the first of the Project-17 frigates, was laid in July 2001 and it was launched in April 2003, its commissioning happened only in December 2008, three years late. Its subsequent two sister ships, Satpura and Sahyadri, were intended to enter service at one-year intervals. The keel of Satpura was laid in 2002, the launch having been in June 2004. Sahyadri's keel was laid in 2003 and the vessel launched in May 2005, and commissioned in 2011.

The keel of the third frigate in the class, Sahyadri, was laid in 2003. The Mazagaon Dock Ltd launched the third of the P-17 Stealth frigate on 27 May 2005. Chairman and Managing Director of MDL Rear Admiral R M Bhatia. The third warship was released into water by Kumkum Prakash, wife of Admiral Arun Prakash, the Chief of Naval Staff, Bhatia told reporters. The ship is the same basic design as the two previous ones that were launched earlier. Some minor changes and modifications were added in the latest ship, though there was no change in the weaponry of the ship.



The commissioning of INS Sahyadri on 24 July 2012, the third and the final frigate of Shivalik class, formally marked the end of Project 17 of the Indian Navy. Preceding the Sahyadri were INS Shivalik, commissioned in 2010 and INS Satpura, commissioned in 2011, all named after important mountain ranges in India.

By August 2011 the major indigenous warship building projects of the Navy running behind schedule are Project-15A, Project-17 and Project-28. The cost escalation in these projects had been about 225% for Project-15A, about 260% for Project-17 and about 157% for Project-28. The main reasons contributing towards P-17 cost escalations are - delay in supply of warship building quality steel by Russia, delay in acquisition of weapon equipment from Russia, and delay in finalization of propulsion equipment in view of complex combined diesel and gas arrangement introduced for the first time in Indian Navy frigate. In case of Project-17, Air Conditioning system procured from M/s York Marine Systems, UK has been functioning satisfactorily on the first two ships. In case of Project-28, it was tendered on competitive basis and the order was placed on M/s York India.

The construction of the three stealth frigates, under Project-17 at MDL, was approved by the government as far back as 1997. Ten years down the line, at a total project cost of Rs 6,919 crore, as of 2007 the Navy planned to induct the frigates, INS Shivalik, INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, from late-2008 onwards at the earliest. The three Project 17 stealth frigates being built at MDL - INS Shivalik, INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri - would each cost Rs 2,600 crore (US $650 million). By one 2012 estimate the three-ship project cost India nearly Rs.10 billion.



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