D 51 Rajput Class
The Russian built the Rajput (Kashin II) class destroyers for India after considerable modifications to the Kashin design. The helicopter in the original was replaced with a lift from the flight deck. These ships were the first ships in the Indian Navy to deploy the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile systems. The role of Rajput class ships involves protection such as anti-aircraft and anti-submarine warfare for carr ier task force defense against submarines, low-flying aircraft, and cruise missiles. The INS Rana, the INS Ranjit and the INS Rajput were based at Vizag. The INS Ranvir and the INS Ranvijay were based at Mumbai.
INS Ranjit the third ship of the Rajput class destroyers was commissioned on 15 Sep 1983 in the erstwhile USSR with then Captain Vishnu Bhagwat in command. The commissioning crew set the tone for the following commissions and true to its name, Ranjit was always victorious everywhere and every time whilst being the torch bearer of the Indian Navy`s reach, spirit and potency.
Th e concept of modernisation and preservation of ships, as followed by all advanced navies, started as early as the 1970s in the Indian Navy. However this assumed a greater urgency in the decade of the 1990s. The principle adhered to was that ideally a ship’s mid life update should coincide with its medium refi t as also the investment in the upgradation should ensure her combat worthiness for at least another 10 years or more. The major modernisations of this decade were included the fitting of the Brahmos missiles in the first ship of the Rajput class. On June 09, 2014, the supersonic anti-ship cruise missile BrahMos was test-fired for the first time from an indigenous warship INS Kolkata. The 290-km range BrahMos missile is already in service on the Russian-built Rajput-class destroyers and Talwar-class frigates of the Indian Navy, this was the first time that the capability of BrahMos was demonstrated from an indigenous warship.
The perspective of the VIIIth Naval Plan(1990–1997) was based on the changes in the Indian Ocean region. The fi rst three ships of the Rajput Class due for long refi ts were to be updated with systems to contemporary standards. while the hull of surface ships lasts between 25 and 30 years, its electronic sensors, weapons and auxiliary system need to be replaced between seven and 10 years which make it necessary to send the ship back to the yard.
In 2014 the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found that the management of naval warship refits and discovered a story of major delays in bringing the vessels back into the sea after repairs. In 1999 analysts pointed out delay in execution of refits and the Navy had cited reasons s such as capacity constraints in naval dockyards, maintenance of minimum force level, availability of equipment, growth of work during refits, dry docking constraints and strategic operational deployment of ships. Even after a decade, the Navy has cited the same reasons as given for the delays in 1999, as reasons for the delays in undertaking and completion of refits. It is thus evident that even after 10 years no perceptible improvement has taken place in timely completion of refits. Resultantly, 8629 ship days were not available for maritime operational purposes, due to availing excess days for completion of refits. The lack of timely availability of spares was a recurrent feature, resulting in delay of refits. Another reason for delayed refits was dry docking and infrastructure constraints at repair organisations.
R-class ships, commissioned in the Indian Navy in the 1980’s, remained nonoperational for a period ranging from 19 to 46 months due to excess refit duration. The total average extra down time for these ships till November 2010 was 39 per cent requiring 163 extra months to complete the refit of just one class of ships. The deficiency in operational availability of R-class ships assumed larger significance when seen in the context of inadequate force level of warships vis-à-vis the force level envisaged in the Indian Navy.
As of July 2005, confirmed recipients of the Barak system include two Type 15 Delhi Class destroyers, one (probably more) Type 16 Godavari Class frigate, three Type 16A Brahmaputra Class frigates, at least one Rajput (Kashin II) Class destroyer and the solitary aircraft carrier, INS Viraat. “Th e Israeli Barak SAM is an integrated system intended to destroy incoming anti-ship missiles. The system comprises of the 10 km-range interceptor missile, an eight-tube Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI)/Rafael-developed vertical-launch system, an EL/M-2221 STGR [Search, Track & Guidance Radar] and an Elbit fire-control system capable of automatic operation, with the ability to engage two targets simultaneously.”
By 2008, the Gas Turbine Research Establishment, Bangalore of Defence Research and Development Organisation which has been indigenously developing Kaveri engine for propelling the Indian Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas), came up with a modified marine version, as a spin off during research, to develop shaft power for propelling Indian Naval ship. Using the core of the Kaveri engine, the scientists of GTRE have added Low Pressure Compressor & Turbine as a gas generator and designed a Free Power Turbine to generate shaft Power for the maritime application. The Kaveri Marine Gas Turbine (KMGT) as it has been named has been transported to Naval Dock Yard, Vishakapatnam and installed on to the Marine Gas Turbine test bed which is an Indian Navy Facility capable of testing the Gas Turbines upto 25 MW of shaft power through a reduction gearbox and a water brake dynamometer.
The Indian Navy has been involved in the development of the engine and participated and supporting the testing phase. The engine has been tested to its potential of 12 MW at ISA SL 35°C condition which is the requirement of Indian Navy for propelling the SNF (Rajput) class of ships. This engine has been demonstrated to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and others including the Scientific Advisor to Raksha Mantri Shri M. Natarajan, Vice Admiral B.S.Randhawa, Dr. D.Banerjee, CC (R&D). With this development, India became self-reliant in the technology of gas turbines for ship propulsion. This will put India in the elite club of Marine Gas Turbine designers e.g., USA, Russia, UK and Ukraine.
Mid-Life Upgrades (MLUs) of ships were also being progressed. After their MLU, ships of the Rajput Class as also those of the Brahmaputra Class will emerge as potent 21st Century combatants with significant residual life.
INS Ranjit, a Rajput class destroyer was decommissioned at a solemn yet grand ceremony at Naval Dockyard, Visakhapatnam culminating a glorious era on May 6, 2019. The decommissioning ceremony was attended by officers and sailors of the commissioning crew as well as other who have been part of Ranjit's voyage over the last 36 years. The Chief Guest for the Decommissioning ceremony was Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi (Retd) Lieutenant Governor, Andaman & Nicobar Islands who was also a part of the commissioning crew. The Commissioning Ceremony was graced by 16 officers and 10 sailors from the commissioning crew and 23 erstwhile Commanding Officers.
The ship commissioned on September 15, 1983 by Captain Vishnu Bhagwat in erstwhile USSR has rendered yeoman service to the nation for 36 years. The ship has been helmed by 27 commanding officers and the last commanding officer, Captain Vikram C Mehra has been in command since June 6, 2017. The ship since her commissioning has sailed for 2190 days covering a distance of over 7,43,000 nautical miles which is equivalent to navigating around the world 35 times and 3.5 times the distance from earth to moon.
The ship had been at the forefront of major naval operations and has the distinction of serving on both Eastern and Western seaboards. Apart from various naval operations like Op Talwar and various multinational exercises, the ship has also been a flag bearer of the Indian Navy's benign role by participating in relief operations post Tsunami in 2004 and Hud-hud on 2014. In recognition of the service rendered by the ship to the nation, the ship was awarded Unit Citations by the Chief of Naval Staff in 2003-04 and in 2009-10.
At the sunset on May 6, 2019, the National Flag, Naval Ensign and Commissioning Pennant were lowered for one last time onboard. A glorious era in the history of the Indian Navy came to a nostalgic end. Whilst the Ranjit era has come to an end in the Indian Navy, the spirit of Ranjit will continue to live in the hearts of every officer and sailor who has served onboard and her motto of "Sada Rane Jayat" or "Ever Victorious in Battle" will continue to inspire generations of Sea Warriors today and in the future.
On 21 May 2021 the Indian Navy’s first destroyer INS Rajput was decommissioned at Naval Dockyard, Visakhapatnam after serving the nation for 41 glorious years. The ship was decommissioned in a solemn and low key event due to the ongoing COVID Pandemic when the National Flag, Naval Ensign, and the Decommissioning Pennant were lowered at sunset time in the presence of Vice Admiral Ajendra Bahadur Singh, AVSM, VSM Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Eastern Naval Command, the Chief Guest for the ceremony. In recognition of the yeoman service rendered to the nation by the ship, a Special Postal Cover was released by the Chief Guest on the occasion.
The decommissioning ceremony was attended by very few officers and sailors from the Eastern Fleet and other organisations of ENC whilst adhering to the COVID protocols. The event was live-streamed on the internet and Naval intranet for the benefit of a larger audience viz., serving personnel, veterans, and outstation ex-crew who had served onboard the ship. The virtual attendees included Vice Adm Atul Kumar Jain, Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, former Commanding Officers and, Officers and Sailors of the Commissioning Crew.
INS Rajput was commissioned on 04 May 1980, at Poti, Georgia (erstwhile USSR), as the lead ship of the Rajput Class Destroyers of the Indian Navy with Capt (later Vice Admiral) Gulab Mohanlal Hiranandani as the first Commanding Officer. During her service, the ship had the distinction of being part of both the Western and Eastern Fleets. She was based in Mumbai till Jun 1988 and thereafter was re-based at Visakhapatnam as part of the Eastern Fleet.
Endowed with menacing looks, the ship was equipped with an array of weapons and sensors which included, surface-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft guns, torpedoes, and anti-submarine rocket launchers. INS Rajput was also the first ship to be fitted out to fire the supersonic cruise and long-range BrahMos missile. She was also the first Indian Naval ship to get affiliated with an Indian Army Regiment ‘the Rajput Regiment’.
Apart from participating in various naval operations like Op Pawan, Operation Aman, Operation Cactus, and various multinational exercises, the ship was a flag bearer of the Indian Navy's benign role by participating in various relief operations which include cyclone relief operations off Odisha Coast in 1999, relief operations post Tsunami in Andaman & Nicobar Islands in 2004 and HADR mission after the earthquake at Jakarta. In her glorious service to the nation, the ship had been helmed by 31 Commanding Officers. The ship since its commissioning has sailed a distance of over 7,87,194 nautical miles which is equivalent to navigating around the world 36.5 times and 3.8 times the distance from Earth to Moon.
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