Saturday, January 22, 2011

With new fleet tanker, Navy to have enhanced footprint

The Indian Navy on Friday took a step further towards increasing its combat footprint with the induction of the INS Deepak fleet tanker that will give it formidable capacity to carry out operation far from Indian shores. The Deepak, first of the two new Italian fleet tankers being inducted into the Navy, will not only support Indian warships in all missions abroad but will also form a crucial part of the Western fleet as the main re-supply vessel for the INS Vikramaditya (former Admiral Gorshkov) that is set to join the Navy in two years.

Commissioned into the fleet by Defence Minister A K Antony, the tanker ship is one of the largest vessels of the Navy with a displacement of 27,500 tonnes and has been designed to refuel large ships like the INS Viraat within a few hours. The warship has been designed by the Italian Fincanteri Shipyard specifically for the Indian Navy and has been delivered in a record time of 27 months. Its sister ship, the Shakti, is expected to arrive before the end of this year. The Deepak class Fleet tankers will be the mainstay support ships of the Indian Navy in the first half of the 21st century and have the additional capacity to carry more than 500 tonnes of weapons that can be used to resupply combatants in the high seas.

Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma, describing the tanker as one of the most modern in the fleet, said that its induction would add ‘significantly to the Indian Navy’s ability to conduct and sustain operations distant from our coast, a factor that is central to the Navy’s ability to protect and promote India’s maritime interests and national security in today’s world’.

“The ship not only represents an increase in our operational flexibility and reach, but also our ability to maintain credible presence for prolonged durations in areas important to our national interests. Besides this, she will also enhance our ability to extend humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and medical support to friendly nations in the region,” he said.

Antony, while commending the Italian designers for the ship design, said that the Indian Navy has achieved its rightful place in the strategically vital Indian Ocean Region. “A ship such as Deepak, with an ability to sustain the Indian fleets at sea for prolonged periods, is a vital asset to ensure Indian Navy’s continuous presence in our area of interest,” he said.

* Length — 175 m
* Breadth — 25 m
* Full load displacement — 27,000 tonnes
* Transport cargoes — 17,900 tonnes
* Dry cargo — 510 tonnes
* Crew capacity — 36 officers and 212 sailors
* Maximum speed — 20 knots
* Fuel transfer rate — 1,000-1,500 tonnes per hour
* Guns — Four AK 630 guns
* Weapon carrying capacity — 510 tonnes

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