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INS Kattabomman 8°23'14"N 77°45'06"E
Naval Area, Vijayanarayanam, Tamil Nadu

INS Kattabomman was commissioned on 20 Oct 1990 by then President, Shri R Venkataraman. It is named after Veera Pandya Kattabomman, a famous warrior king, who laid down his life in the struggle for freedom from the British Raj. The vast base is rich in flora and fauna with rows of exotic trees and fruits. It is home to deer, hopping hare, peacocks and vast variety of migratory birds from Siberia.

INS Kattabomman is the premier communication establishment, located at South Vijayanarayanam, near Tirunelveli in South Tamil Nadu. The primary role of the base is to provide continuous global communication link in the Very Low Frequency (VLF) spectrum to ships and submarines in the country’s areas of interest. The 3000 acre base enclosed in a 22 km perimeter wall hosts the VLF transmitting grid, which is the only one of it’s kind in the country. The antenna structure consists of 13 high raised cable-stayed steel masts in form of a 6-pointed star. The 301 m center mast is the third tallest structure in the country, while the other 12 rank amongst the top ten. Two further masts of the station carrying an umbrella antenna are 471 metres tall and the tallest structures in India. They are also the tallest military structure in the world.

INS Kattabomman is a vibrant self-contained base, with officers, sailors and civilians striving to facilitate round the clock naval operations. The base provides facilities such as swimming pool, Tennis and other sports, shopping complex, cinema cum auditorium, post office, children’s parks etc for the over 2000 personnel and families. Extensive courses and extra-curricular activities are conducted within and around the establishment under the aegis of NWWA. The personnel also reach out to the society in Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and Tuticorin districts through a host of welfare programs.

Whereas a submarine on the surface can transmit and receive wireless messages just like a ship can, submerged submarines can only receive wireless messages on Very Low Frequency (VLF). VLF transmitters require huge antennae suspended high above the ground.

The initial discussions were solely with the Russian side, from whom the submarines had been acquired. Inquiries with western manufacturers indicated that better technology might be available from America. Parallel discussions were therefore pursued, both with Russia and with America. Between 1979 and 1984, modalities were worked out for American company in collaboration with an Indian company to assume responsibility for the detailed design, manufacture, site installation and commissioning of the VLF transmitting station. During the same period, the Defence Research and Development Organisation designed the antennae to be fitted in the submarine for receiving VLF transmissions. Installation of the VLF Transmitter commenced in 1987. Trials completed in 1989. On 20 Oct 1990, the VLF Transmitting Station was commissioned as INS KATTABOMMAN.

Admiral RK Dhowan, Chief of the Naval Staff, inaugurated a new state-of-the-art “Very Low Frequency (VLF)” transmitting station at INS Kattaboman, Tirunelvelli, Tamil Nadu on 31 Jul 2014. This new facility would provide a boost to the Navy’s ability to communicate with deployed ships and submarines on an uninterrupted basis throughout the year. India is among a handful of nations in the world that has such a capability.

VLF radio waves are used for communicating with submarines that are underwater and the Indian Navy has been operating a similar facility for the last 24 years. The new facility incorporates cutting edge technology and will provide the Navy significantly enhanced reach, redundancy and operational features. Being a Navy that deploys globally to represent and protect Indian national interests, the Service has an elaborate communication infrastructure, including modern satellite communication facilities, to link and network its deployed units with their home bases and command and control centres. The new VLF station will strengthen this infrastructure and provide the Navy additional operational advantages.

The new facility equipment has been constructed by M/s Larsen & Turbo divisions in Chennai and Bengaluru. Interestingly, the facility boasts of the highest masts structures in India, as well as several other unique engineering feats.

With India planning a larger fleet of nuclear-powered submarines, which can prowl underwater for several months at a time and let loose their nuclear-tipped missiles as and when required, the Navy acquired a new advanced facility to communicate with the silent predators. The state-of-the-art very low frequency (VLF) transmitting station was commissioned 31 July 2014 at INS Kattabomman in Tirunelveli (Tamil Nadu) by Navy chief Admiral RK Dhowanon. “The new facility will boost our ability to communicate with submarines, which have trailing wire antenna to pick up the coded VLF radio waves, on an uninterrupted basis throughout the year," said an officer.

Only a handful of nations have such a VLF capability, which is critical to pass coded orders to nuclear submarines on long-range deterrent patrols. Diesel-electric submarines have to surface every few days to get oxygen to recharge their batteries and have limited endurance due to fuel requirements. Nuclear-powered submarines, armed with nuclear-tipped missiles, in turn, are considered the most effective and difficult-to-detect nuke platform since they can operate underwater at long ranges for months at end.

Between 1979 and 1984, modalities were worked out for American company in collaboration with an Indian company to assume responsibility for the detailed design, manufacture, site installation and commissioning of the VLF transmitting station. During the same period, the Defence Research and Development Organisation designed the antennae to be fitted in the submarine for receiving VLF transmissions. Installation of the VLF Transmitter commenced in 1987. Trials completed in 1989. On 20 Oct 90, the VLF Transmitting Station was commissioned as INS KATTABOMMAN.

India’s first three SSBNs (nuclear-powered submarines with nuclear ballistic missiles) are already being built at the secretive Ship-Building Centre at Vizag to complete the country’s nuclear weapons triad – the capability to fire nukes from land, air and underwater. The first, the 6,000-tonne INS Arihant, is slated to go for extensive sea trials soon after its miniature 83MW pressurized light-water reactor, which went “critical” in August last year, attains “full power” in the next couple of months. Moreover, there is an ongoing proposal to build six SSNs (nuclear-powered attack submarines, usually without ballistic missiles).

India is the second country after Russia to actively operate an Extremely low frequency facility; the United States had discontinued using it in 2004. The ELF facility consists of a pair of antennae arrays to the south of the much larger VLF array. The construction began in March 2012, when Admiral Nirmal Verma, chief of the naval staff of the Indian Navy (IN), laid the cornerstone for the ELF facility near the village of Vijaya Narayanam, about 23 km north of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu. It is co-located with the IN's Very Low-Frequency (VLF) communications station, which transmits at 18.2 kHz. The company is said to be the Indian company Larsen & Toubro. According to legend, Russia was closely involved in the development of the facility. At present, little information is known about the call sign frequency of this extremely low frequency longwave station. The new strategic acquisition of the navy has catapulted the country into an exclusive technology club, of which India is the seventh member. It all began in 1984 as Project Skylark and the Rs 122-crore station is a crucial acquisition of the country's maritime force.

A second ELF Naval facility is sought to be built in the Damagundam Reserve Forest is a Extremely Low Frequency (3 to 30 hertz) base station which will be used as a communication hub for submarines.

The identification of the reported ELF antennae is a bit of a puzzle. To radiate electromagnetic waves eciently one needs an antenna whose dimensions are of the order of the wavelength of the radiation. VLF waves, with frequencies from 3 to 30 kHz, have wavelengths from 100 to 10 km and this suggests that VLF antennas must be extremely large to be efficient. Vertical electric antennas are not ecient at ELF. In comparison with VLF antennas they are a shorter fraction of a wavelength in length, and thus their radiation resistance is much lower. Also, they have higher input impedance and thus sources of greater voltage are needed to produce a signi cant antenna current. For ELF systems the antenna of choice is the horizontal, insulated grounded-end dipole or line current antenna.

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INS Kattabomman INS Kattabomman INS Kattabomman INS Kattabomman INS Kattabomman INS Kattabomman

 
Page last modified: 13-09-2021 14:50:49 Zulu