Project 16 Godavari Class Frigate
The lessons learnt in the 1971 Indo Pakistan War, the detailed discussions with Russia for the next series of Russian acquisitions and the progress made in the development of indigenous systems made it possible for the Naval Staff to consider major improvements in the combat capability of frigates. The Directorate of Combat Policy and Tactics suggested that the entire missile and gun package of the Soviet Nanuchka class missile corvette be installed in the frigates which would follow the VINDHYAGIRI, together with two Seaking anti submarine helicopters, the latest Indian APSOH Sonar, a mix of Soviet and Indian radars and Italian CAIO and EW systems. The Directorate of Marine Engineering suggested that steam propulsion be replaced by gas turbine propulsion.
The Naval Headquarters Technical Team which visited Canada in 1974 saw the Canadian 4100 ton Destroyer DDH - 280 which had two Seakings embarked. Naval Headquarters decided to try and embark two Seakings in the smaller Leander hull.
The major change which had to be implemented in the design, was the decision of the Naval staff to use Soviet weapons and fire control systems together with Western and Indian weapon systems and propulsion systems. With surface to surface missiles, surface to air missiles and two Seakings, it appeared to be a cost effective ship, but the Leander hull was in no position to take it. So a decision was taken to design a larger hull, using well established, conventional, steam turbine machinery and auxiliaries. The larger vessel would displace twenty percent more than the 3000 tons of the NILGIRI class frigate and would be about fourteen meters longer.
Early on, the Design Group decided that they would not change the proven steam turbine propulsion of the NILGIRI class frigates to gas turbines. Major investments had been made on facilities and tooling in Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the manufacture of steam turbines and auxiliaries. It was felt that it would be prudent to amortise this investment over a larger number of vessels.
Serendipitously, with the same capacity of steam turbines as in NILGIRI, the new design ship would go faster, due to improved hydrodynamic conditions at maximum speed. There would however, be a small penalty of fuel consumption at cruising speeds.
Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) first laid the GODAVARI's keel on November 3, 1978. It was launched on May 15, 1980, and commissioned on December 10 1983. She fully met the specifications and exceeded all major performance requirements. On 24 December 2015 the Indian Navy decommissioned the country's first indigenously designed and built Godavari-class frigate, thirty-two-years its induction.
As the sun set on 23rd December 2015, the Indian Navy hauled down its ensign from, the historic guided missile frigate, Indian Naval Ship Godavari, for the last time. In a solemn ceremony at the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai, Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar, Chief of Staff, Headquarter Western Naval Command, decommissioned the 32 year old ship. The ceremony was attended by a large number of people including ex-Commanding Officers and crew of the ship, and senior officers of the Western Naval Command.
INS Godavari was designed by the Indian Navy’s Design Directorate and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) and was constructed at MDL. Godavari was the first major warship which was completely designed and constructed in India and thus was a significant milestone for the country in its transition from being a ‘buyers Navy’ to a ‘builders Navy’. Commissioned on 10 December 1983, she had completed 32 years of service to the nation at decommissioning. She has thus proven the success and effectiveness of the Indian designers and shipbuilders.
Being the first to be designed and made in India, lessons learnt during her construction and operations have helped the nation’s shipyards and designers in refining subsequent indigenous warships.
INS Godavari participated in numerous operations with ‘Operation Cactus’ thwarting a coup d’état in Maldives in 1988 being a prominent one. The ship has participated in ‘Operation Jupiter’ off Sri Lanka in 1989. In 1994, the ship participated in ‘Operations Bolster and Shield’ involving de-induction of Indian Army from Somalia. In recent times, the ship had participated in Anti Piracy operations while on ‘Petrol of Gulf of Aden’ deployments in 2009 and 2011.
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