In a significant stride towards bolstering self-reliance in defence manufacturing, the Ministry of Defence has sealed a momentous deal with Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Visakhapatnam. This pact, inked on August 25, 2023, entails the acquisition of five cutting-edge Fleet Support Ships (FSS) for the Indian Navy, at a total cost of approximately Rs 19,000 crore. Notably, these vessels will be entirely conceived and fabricated by HSL, Visakhapatnam, marking a pivotal milestone in indigenous shipbuilding prowess. The green light for this strategic move was granted by the Cabinet Committee on Security during its meeting on August 16, 2023.
Expected to revolutionise the naval operational landscape, the Fleet Support Ships are primed to play a critical role in replenishing ships at sea. Their capabilities span from refuelling to providing water, ammunition, and stores, effectively elongating the Indian Naval Fleet’s operational endurance by obviating the need to return to port frequently. Beyond the immediate impact on sustained maritime operations, these vessels are slated to amplify the strategic reach and mobility of the Indian Fleet. An encompassing consequence of this augmentation is the potent enhancement of the Indian Navy’s blue water capability. Moreover, these ships stand ready for diverse deployment scenarios, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) missions, and the evacuation of civilians.
The forthcoming Fleet Support Ships, collectively weighing an imposing 44,000 tons, will etch a historic chapter in India’s maritime narrative. Notably, this endeavour heralds the inaugural instance of such vessels being constructed domestically by an Indian Shipyard. As a welcome ancillary consequence, the ambitious project is projected to engender an estimated 168.8 lakh mandays of employment over an eight-year span. The socioeconomic ripples extend further, with this shipbuilding venture fostering synergistic growth in allied industries, including the vital micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector. Striving for holistic self-sufficiency, these ships will proudly epitomise the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative, synergizing seamlessly with the overarching ‘Make in India’ drive of the government.
In sum, the Ministry of Defence’s accord with Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL), Visakhapatnam, constitutes a resolute leap forward in realising indigenous naval manufacturing excellence. The synergy between cutting-edge technology, strategic intent, and socioeconomic upliftment paints an optimistic picture of India’s maritime future. With these indigenously crafted Fleet Support Ships on the horizon, the Indian Navy charts a course towards enhanced operational capacities and reaffirms its commitment to self-reliance.