Fleet Support Ships
The fleet support ship project, announced in 2016, aims to provide the Indian Navy with auxiliary vessels that will ferry weapons, food, equipment and other items to replenish ships deployed at sea. Support Vessels are capable of acting as underway supply points or as coastal supply points where harbor installations are not available or safe enough. They provide fuel, food, ammunition and spare parts to ensure the continued operational readiness of Task Groups at all times.
The Ministry of Defence, Government of India, intends to acquire five Self Propelled Fleet Support Ships (FSS) for the Indian Navy under Buy Global category. The Request for Information (RFI) consists of two parts as indicated below:- (a) Part I. The first part of the RFI incorporates operational characteristics and features that should be met by the ships. Few important technical parameters of the proposed Boats are also mentioned. (b) Part II. The second part of the RFI states the methodology of seeking response of Shipyards. Submission of incomplete response format may render the Shipyard liable for rejection. Solicitation of offers will be as per ‘Single Stage-Two Bid System’. It would imply that a ‘Request for Proposal’ would be issued soliciting the technical and commercial offers together, but in two separate sealed envelopes. The validity of commercial offers would be at least 18 months from the date of submitting of offers.
The aim is to finalise the specifications of fleet support ships to meet Indian Naval requirements. The fleet support ships should be capable of: transfer FOLs to all naval surface units while underway at sea, using the abeam and stern transfer methods; and transfer all types of stores, victuals and personnel to naval units, while underway at sea.
Important Technical Parameters are specified in the brief Requirements placed at Appendix A of this document. Detailed specifications will be given in the Request for Proposal (RFP) which will be issued to Shipyards who have responded to the RFI after verifying their credentials and capabilities to build the ships. The principal dimensions of the ship should be: Length Overall - about 200 m. Beam Max - about 25 m. The ship should have a displacement of approximately 40,000 tons in fully-loaded condition. The ships should have diesel propulsion (CODAD), with single shaft configuration with CPP, and a service life of 30 years. The vessel must be able to perform a 60-day mission with capability to operate for an extended mission on requirement.
Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) d in Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh developed infrastructure facility for covered building dock, three slipways, repair graving dock, large wet basin with depth of 10M, high pressure hydraulic flushing facilities for submarines etc. Hindustan Shipyard Limited was in losses for many years due to lack of orders. However, it earned profit during 2016 and 2017. In December 2015. Ministry issued letter of offer for construction of Special Operation Vehicles and Fleet Support Ships to HSL. HSL would be taking up this project with the support of a collaborator for design and construction of this project. An Expression of Interest (EOI) document indicating the scope of collaborator and all relevant information was available in HSL website in order to make a proposal as per the requirements mentioned. Response to EoI would be the qualifying criteria for issuance of RFP in future.
Seven global players had initially responded to the Request for Proposal — the German ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), Fincantieri of Italy, Navantia from Spain, Rosboronexports (ROE) from Russia and Turkey’s Anadolu Shipyard. At the end of the scrutiny only three companies including TKMS, ROE and the Turkish Shipyard was shortlisted. Hindustan Shipyard initially selected South Korean shipbuilding giant Hyundai Heavy Industries for the fleet support ship contract and held long discussions. The first ship was expected to roll out in October 2022 from the Hyundai facility in South Korea. Simultaneously, the construction of another FSS would start at HSL with the expert guidance of Hyundai. However, the venture with Hyundai was dropped by October 2018 following disputes over quality assurance requirements.
Subsequently, a consortium of Turkish shipyards, led by Anadolu Shipyard, was selected to partner with Hindustan Shipyard in May 2019. This was the first time ever that a Turkish shipyard which is part of TAIS industrial group, participated in any defence contract in India. Anadolu Shipyard was to provide design assistance and equipment for the fleet support ship contract, which is estimated to have a total value of around $2.3 billion. Construction of the first fleet support ship was expected to be over in four years.
Diplomatic ties between India and Turkey had been frayed since September 2019 when Erdogan supported Pakistan's attempts to internationalise the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. In a 'tit-for-tat' response, the Indian government expressed concern about Turkey's ongoing invasion of Syria.
On 03 October 2019, US defence publication Defense News quoted a ministry of defence official in India as saying "punitive action would bar Anadolu from carrying out any business with Hindustan because such a partnership could have grave consequences for India’s security". An Indian Navy official told Defense News “Involvement of [the] Turkish defense company will include overseeing construction, detailed manufacturing, engineering, selecting equipment, quality assurance, etc. This would mean a permanent presence of Turkish people at HSL yard. That is a big security risk.” India’s state-owned Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) and TAIS, a consortium of five Turkish shipbuilders, signed an $2.1 billion (INR 160 billion) deal to jointly design and build five 45,000-tonne fleet support vessels for the Indian Navy. Turkey’s TAIS emerged as the lowest bidder for a contract to manufacture five of the 45,000-tonne FSVs at the Vizag-based Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) in 2019, but the contract signing was put on hold in October 2019 following the repeated raising of Kashmir issue by Erdogan at international forums. Anadolu Shipyard , part of the TAIS industrial group, will provide the ship design, supply key machinery equipment (KME), and provide technical assistance.
The Indian Navy's fleet support ship could be similar in design to the Pakistan Navy fleet tanker PNS Moawin, which was built by Pakistan’s Karachi Shipyard under a design provided by Turkey’s STM. A significant difference between Indian and Pakistani tankers is the size as PNS Moawin displaces 16,400 tons, compared to the 45,000 tons displaced by Indian FSS.
TAIS will carry out the modernization of the local shipyard, the design of the ships, engineering services, planning and management of production, preparation of shipbuilding material specifications and main materials. The construction of the first vessel was initially scheduled to begin by the end of 2020, with the first vessel expected to be delivered to the Navy in 2024. The remaining four would be built in a gap of 10 months each.
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