The fourth of six Kalvari (Scorpene) class diesel-electric attack submarines (SSK) was commissioned into the Indian navy. The 75 m-long submarine INS Vela was put into operation on November 25, after more than two years of launching at the naval shipyard in Mumbai. INS Vela, was commissioned into the Navy in the presence of Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh at a ceremony in Mumbai.
The sea trials of Vela were delayed due to COVID 19, which led to a delay in its commissioning.
Vela is named after a decommissioned submarine Vela, which served the Navy from 1973 to 2010. The earlier Vela belonged to Foxtrot class submarine of Soviet origin.
The hull fabrication of all six submarines is now complete, and the first submarine was commissioned on 14 December 2017. As of February 2021, the remaining boats are expected to be delivered by late 2022 or early 2023. After INS Kalvari, two more submarines under the contract, INS Khanderi and INS Karanj, were commissioned. Vela is the fourth, and sea trials are ongoing for Vagir, while the sixth, Vagsheer, is under construction at Mazagon Dock Limited.
The submarine can take up to eight officers and 35 sailors. This class is equipped with six 533-mm torpedo tubes for a combination of 18 heavyweight wire-guided German-made Surface and Underwater Target (SUT) torpedoes and SM39 Exocet anti-ship missiles or 30 mines in place of both. The class is also fitted with mobile C303/S anti-torpedo decoys for self-defence. The weapon systems and sensors are integrated with Submarine Tactical Integrated Combat System (SUBTICS). It has a sonar system that is capable of Low Frequency Analysis and Ranging (LOFAR) enabling long range detection and classification. Each submarine has a complement of 8 officers and 35 sailors.
Vela has a length of 67.5 metres and height of 12.3 metres. The beam measures 6.2 metres. It can reach a top speed of 20 knots when submerged and a surface top speed of 11 knots.
The submarine has four MTU 12V 396 SE84 diesel engines and 360 battery cells for power, and has a silent Permanently Magnetised Propulsion Motor. The hull, fin and hydroplanes are designed for minimum underwater resistance and all equipment inside the pressure hull is mounted on shock-absorbing cradles for enhanced stealth.
Vela is a diesel-electric powered attack submarine, designed to act as “sea denial” as well as “access denial” warfare to the adversary.
The submarine can engage in offensive operations across the entire spectrum of naval warfare, including anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, mine laying and area surveillance.
Parallely, the Navy recently issued the Request For Proposal for procurement of six advanced submarines under Project-75I.
The Navy has a 30-year submarine building programme and after the P-75I the Navy intends to design and build conventional submarines indigenously. “This is going to be maybe the last time (P-75I) that we will take any outside assistance; henceforth we will design and build our own submarines,” Navy Chief Adm Singh told The Hindu recently.