On September 1, 2023, the Indian Navy, in a statement, said that the wife of India’s Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar, Sudesh Dhankar, will be launching the latest Indian warship, INS Mahendragiri at Mazagon Docks Limited in Mumbai.
The statement further said, “The Launch of Mahendragiri is an apt testament to the incredible progress our nation has made in the building of a self-reliant naval force.” The name of the warship has been derived from the Mahendragiri Mountain in the Eastern Ghats of India.
INS Mahendragiri will be the seventh and last warship of the Nilgiri class, which comes under the category of -Project-17A of the Indian Navy. The four warships of this class were built in Mazagaon Docks Limited, Mumbai and the remaining warships at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers in Kolkata. The four warships built by the Mazagon Docks Limited are INS Nilgiri, INS Udayagiri, INS Taragiri and INS Mahendragiri.
They will be commissioned in the year 2025, 2026 and 2027 respectively. INS Nilgiri will be commissioned in 2024. The other ships built in Kolkata are INS Himgiri, INS Dunagiri and INS Vindhyagiri. They were launched on December 14, 2020, July 15, 2023, and August 17, 2023 and will enter service in 2025-2026.
The previous warships under Project 17-A were launched during 2019 -2022. The latest launch comes at a time when self-reliance in defence is a top priority of the government and when the power dynamics in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) are changing due to the ever-expanding footprint of the Peoples Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
These ships have been designed by the Bureau of Naval Design, the in-house design organisation. The steel hull used in the construction of the Project 17-A ships is indigenously developed DMR 249A, which is a low carbon, micro-alloy grade steel manufactured by SAIL (Steel Authority of India Limited).
These frigates will have state-of-the-art weapons, sensors and an advanced information system, an integrated platform management system, world-class modular space, sophisticated power distribution and a host of advanced features. It will be equipped with a supersonic surface-to-surface missile system.
The ship’s air defence capabilities are designed to counter the threat of enemy aircraft, and anti-ship cruise missiles will revolve around the vertical launch and long-range surface-to-air missile system. There will be two 30mm cannons that will provide the ship with close-in-defence capability, while an SRGM Gun will enable her to provide effective gunfire support.
The indigenously built triple tube light-weight torpedoes launchers and rocket launchers will add punch to the ship’s anti-submarine capability. The 149.02 M long and 17.8 m ship will be propelled by CODOG Main Diesel engines, which are designed to achieve a speed of over 28 knots at a displacement of approximately 6670 tons.
These guided missile frigates have been constructed with a specific stealth design, which has radar absorbing coatings and is low observable, which can make its approach undetectable for the enemies, and the new technology also reduces the infrared signals of the ship at large.
India has accelerated its speed of making warships. Aided by technology design software and modern construction techniques and helped by a growing manufacturing base, the construction pace of the warships almost matched that of the shipyards in Europe.
Excluding the INS Vikrant, the aircraft carrier commissioned last year, the Nilgiri class ships and the Vishakhapatnam class of ships are the most complex warships ever made in India. Both have added focus on Atmanirbharta in Defence and Make In India.