INS Karanj - History, Features & Advantages

INS stands for the Indian Naval Ship. The acronym is used for designating the boats, frigates, and ships of the Indian Navy. Indian defence forces and various strategic investments have been in news throughout the year. Further, the year 2021 is being celebrated as ”Swarnim Vijay Varsh” being the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

Why is INS Karanj in the News?

Recently, the Indian Navy’s third stealth Scorpene-class Submarine INS Karanj was commissioned at the Naval Dockyard Mumbai through a formal commissioning ceremony. As per naval tradition, the INS  Karanj took its name from the Russian origin Foxtrot Class Submarine that India bought from the Soviet Union in 1969 and decommissioned in 2003. It is interesting to note that the Old INS Karanj took an active part in the 1971 War under the Command of then Cdr VS Shekhawat. 

The new Karanj would form part of the Western Naval Command’s Submarine fleet and would be another potent part of the Command’s arsenal

In this article, we shall be discussing various aspects, history and significance of the Submarine.  Further, this article covers other important aspects, keeping in mind the demands of the Preliminary as well as Main examination of the UPSC IAS Exam.

The History of the Erstwhile Karanj

  • The earlier version of the submarine, which belonged to the Foxtrot class, was first commissioned in 1969 at Riga in the erstwhile USSR
  • A proposal to form a submarine arm, also referred to as the silent arm, of the Indian Navy was first envisaged in 1959.
  • In 1964 the Soviet government agreed to transfer the purchase of four Foxtrot-class submarines, of which INS Karanj was a part.
  • All four constituted the 8th Submarine Squadron and played a key role during the 1970-71 Indo-Pak war. 
  • The INS Karanj went on to serve the nation for 34 years till 2003. 
  • In recognition of the valiant action of her officers and crew, personnel were decorated, including the award of Vir Chakra to the then commanding officer V S Shekhawat.

What are Scorpene-class submarines?

  • The Scorpene class of submarines were designed by French naval shipbuilding firm DCNS in partnership with Spanish shipbuilding firm Navantia.
  • The Scorpene-class submarines are one of the most advanced conventional submarines in the world. 
  • The submarine has superior stealth features, such as advanced acoustic silencing techniques, low radiated noise levels, and the ability to attack with precision-guided weapons on board.
  • The Indian Navy intends to use the submarines for missions such as area surveillance, intelligence gathering, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and minelaying operations. 
  • The submarines are armed with six torpedo-launching tubes, 18 heavy weapons, tube-launched MBDA SM-39 Exocet anti-ship missiles, and precision-guided weapons. 
  • It can launch crippling attacks on the surface and underwater enemy targets.
  • The attack submarines can travel at a maximum submerged speed of approximately 20 knots and have the ability to remain submerged for 21 days.
  •  It has a diving depth of more than 350 m.

What are the Features of  INS Karanj?

  • The weapon package includes sufficient wire-guided torpedoes and sub-surface to surface missiles to neutralize a large enemy fleet, and for self-defence, it has a state-of-the-art torpedo-decoy system.
  • INS Karanj has been equipped with the best sensors in the world and is fitted with an integrated platform management system to provide centralized propulsion and machinery control. 
  • The powerful diesel engines can quickly charge batteries for a stealthy mission profile.
  • Its modular construction enables the up-gradation of air-independent propulsion in the future.
  • Fitted with a permanent magnet synchronous motor, making it one of the quietest submarines in the world.
  • The Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) inducted in the  modern variants of the Scorpene class of submarines enables them to  operate for a long time without access to surface oxygen
  • It can be said that Karanj is the first truly indigenous submarine, encapsulating the spirit of ‘Make in India’. 
  • Karanj has been built without any kind of supervision of the French company and even the crew has been trained by Indian Navy officials.

What is ‘Project 75I’?

  • Under this project of the Indian Navy, six latest-generation attack submarines are being built. 
  • They are expected to be completed by 2022. 
  • The project is taking shape at Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL) Mumbai, under collaboration with M/s Naval Group, France.
  • Naval Group is among the five Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) shortlisted for the Navy’s project that was processed through the Strategic Partnership (SP) model of defence procurement. 
  • MDL and Larsen & Toubro are the two Indian companies shortlisted under it.

What are the strategic advantages of the Kalvari class submarines?

  •  Kalvari-class submarines can be deployed in different roles. 
  • They include guarding a strategic point in the sea, laying mines, gathering intelligence, dropping marine commandos, and engaging with enemy ships as per the need.
  • They have an advantage of comparatively smaller lengths, such as Karanj(60 m).
  • A nuclear-powered submarine is long and heavy and has its own advantages but Kalvari-class submarines are important in their own way. 
  • They are smaller, easier to manoeuvre, and can go closer to the coast.
  • As per the contract with a French company, they would teach MDL and transfer the technology to India, so it can make these ships indigenously.

Conclusion

It is said those who control the sea control the land. Induction of the INS Karanj is a crucial aspect to achieve indigenization of armed forces and critical combat technologies. The nuclear-powered and diesel-electric submarines have their designated roles in the Carrier Battle Groups, which are formations of ships and submarines with Aircraft Carriers in the lead role. Currently, India has fewer number submarines than what is required, with some more of those from both types being at various stages of construction. 

INS Karanj combined with future additions will be a boost to the submarine deployment strategy to achieve a strategic deterrence. This is also going to contribute to the need for scaling up to a certain number of submarines belonging to different classes, that should be in active service and combat-ready state for this purpose. Further, with the changing geopolitical scenario, and the string of pearls policy adopted by China, a strong and Superior Indian Navy is a boost for the regional security, integrated command, and protection of India’s national interest in the region. And those strategic decisions will be a boost for the defence forces.

This article is relevant for the sections of Current Affairs, the Security part of the UPSC Syllabus prescribed for Preliminary and Main Stages of Civil Services Exam.

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