The Indian engineering, procurement & construction (EPC) projects to defence multinational, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) launched the seventh and final offshore patrol vessel (OPV) for the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) today at its Kattupalli defence shipyard, north of Chennai.
The vessel was launched at the hands of Hema Somanathan and was named ‘ICGS Vigraha’, in the august presence of the Chief Guest Dr. TV Somanathan, Secretary (Expenditure), Ministry of Finance, Krishnaswamy Natarajan, Director General of Indian Coast Guard, Jayant Damodar Patil, Whole Time Director (Defence Business) and Member of the L&T Board and other dignitaries.
The vessel is the last in the series of seven OPVs contracted to L&T by the Ministry of Defence in March 2015. According to a company release, numerous benchmarks were set during the execution of the programme.
For the first time, the entire design and construction of the OPV class of ships were undertaken by an Indian private sector shipyard. The delivery of ‘First of Class’ OPV ‘ICGS Vikram’ was done ahead of the contractual schedule. Achieving the build period of mere 19.5 months, it cleared all sea acceptance trials in a single sea sortie for the fifth OPV ‘ICGS Varad’. The delivery of five OPVs of the series so far are all ahead of the contractual schedule.
“In just over a decade from the receipt of L&T’s first defence shipbuilding order in March 2010, L&T has in-house designed, constructed and delivered 59 defence vessels exemplifying its ‘Made in India’ resolve to make India self-reliant and stronger,” stated a company release.
These include five OPVs, a floating dock and 53 interceptor boats with the remarkable achievement of delivering on all contracts either ahead or on schedule.
OPVs for Policing India’s Maritime Zones
The OPVs are long-range surface ships, capable of operation in maritime zones of India, including island territories with helicopter operation capabilities. Their roles include coastal and offshore patrolling, policing maritime zones of India, control and surveillance, anti-smuggling and anti-piracy operations with limited wartime roles.
‘ICGS Vigraha’ is approximately 98 metre-long, 15 metre-wide, has a 3.6 metre draught, 2140 tonne displacement and a range of 5000 nautical miles (NM). It can attain a sustained speed of up to 26 knots. The entire design and construction process are certified by the American Bureau of Shipping as well as the Indian Registrar of Shipping and overseen by ICG’s resident team at Kattupalli.
Commenting on the launch, Sekharipuram Narayanan Subrahmanyan, CEO & Managing Director, L&T, said, “L&T resolutely stands with the Indian armed forces to equip them with cutting edge defence technologies. Ahead of the scheduled launch of ICGS Vigraha in these challenging times will pave the way for her early deployment by the coast guard, which has assumed greater significance in the current geopolitical situation.”
“L&T has affirmed its commitment to ‘Make in India’ in defence with the largest spectrum of defence solutions on offer through decades of in-house R&D, huge investments in setting up state-of-the-art defence production facilities and development of competent human capital. L&T’s capabilities in defence are able to provide a much-needed impetus to Aatmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) in defence,” added Subrahmanyan.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Patil said: “L&T has accomplished this launch through innovative ways to overcome unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19 over the past six months. Our pursuit of technology, continuous innovation, attention to inbuilt quality, and adoption of modular construction philosophy combined with Shipbuilding 4.0 processes enables the unmatched speed of execution to deliver defence ships on time.”
“L&T continues to raise the performance bar by consistently delivering defence vessels ahead of schedule under all Ministry of Defence (MoD) programmes. With an unparalleled execution track record and robust financial strength, L&T is uniquely positioned to play a leading role in augmentation and modernisation of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard fleets, and consistently deliver Make in India in defence in the true sense,” he added.
The production of OPVs has progressed despite numerous challenges due to the COVID-19 restrictions, collapse of global supply chain and scant availability of human resources.
L&T also takes care of the upkeep of Indian Naval and Coast Guard fleets by routinely undertaking their repairs, refits and upgrades including emergency repairs and inspection with exemplary delivery performance.
Besides the launch, the yard is readying for delivery of the sixth OPV and the 54th interceptor boat in October.