Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Last of Foxtrot submarines to retire on Dec 9

http://idrw.org/?p=1724BY: Tehelka.com
The Foxtrot class of submarines, the first to have joined the Indian naval fleet, will bid adieu to the elite services after 36 years in service.
The last of the Indian Navy’s Soviet-built Foxtrot submarines, with which the navy’s submarine arm came into being, will retire on December 9, bringing an era to an end. With the decommissioning, the already dwindling submarine strength of the force would dip further.
INS Vagli, the oldest operational submarine of the Indian Navy, undertook its last dive on July 21 and is presently berthed at Visakhapatnam. The submarine will be decommissioned on Thursday, a day after the Indian Navy marks its Submarine Day.
The submarine, presently commanded by Commander AA Kapre, is the last of the Foxtrot class of submarines that were built in the erstwhile USSR. It was commissioned on August 10, 1974, at Riga and has since operated extensively off both coasts of the country.
The Russian Navy had retired its last Foxtrots between 1995 and 2001. Earlier this year, the Indian Navy had retired INS Vela, commissioned in 1973.
The Foxtrot class was the NATO’s reporting name of a class of diesel-electric patrol submarines that were built in the Soviet Union. The first of the submarines was launched in 1957 and commissioned in 1958. By the time the last submarine was completed in 1983, the Foxtrot class had become obsolete.
The latest development is an eye-opener for the navy, which has not inducted a submarine in the last 17 years.
According to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), the navy’s submarine fleet is ageing and by 2012, 63 per cent of the vessels would have completed their operational life. Due to “serious slippages” in the induction plan, the CAG report said: “In what could seriously impact on the operational preparedness of the Indian Navy, more than 50 per cent of its submarines have completed 75 per cent of their operational life and some have already outlived their maximum service life.”
If the construction plan for new submarines is not expedited, the CAG said that “63 per cent of the existing fleet would complete their prescribed life by 2012 when the first new submarine will be inducted as per the present schedule.” The Indian Navy, operating just 16 submarines, has a submarine strength much below the envisaged force level and a large number of submarines in the existing fleet will become due for decommissioning in the immediate future, leading to a sharp decline in the fleet.
The construction of six Scorpene submarines at Mazagon Dock Ltd has been suffering chronic delays due to technology transfer issues. The indigenously-built nuclear submarine INS Arihant, which was launched in mid-2009, will be commissioned by 2012 end.
Taking note of the situation, the government has sanctioned the construction of six more conventional submarines, but the first of the submarines would be ready for commissioning only by 2015.

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