Indian Navy to Take Delivery of its Secretive Missile Tracking Ship in December – Report

Indian Navy is scheduled to take delivery of its secretive missile tracking ship in December this year, Economic Times reported.

The vessel called as Ocean Surveillance Ship (OSS), with a yard designation, VC11184, is built by Indian Ministry of Defence-owned shipbuilder, Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) and is successfully undergoing its harbour trials.

The ship will be operated by the Indian Navy and the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), India’s technical intelligence agency. According to the report, the next stage will be sea trials by a joint team of the Navy and the NTRO in which its specialised surveillance systems – three dome shaped antennas packed with sensors – will be extensively tested before the handing over.

“We expect to deliver the ship by December this year,” Economic Times report quoted Rear Admiral LV Sarath Babu, Chairman & Managing Director of HSL. “The keel of the vessel was laid in June 2014 and we would have completed it in less than five years. It is a very complex vessel and we have set a new standard for building vessels of such class on time”.

The vessel was ordered just over four years back as part of the Indian government’s focus on creating a nuclear missile shield for the nation. The Indian MoD sanctioned an initial amount of Rs 725 crore (USD105 million) for the project. The total cost of the program is reportedly about Rs 1,500 crore (USD23o million).

The construction of the vessel was monitored directly by the Indian Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)as with the Advance Technology Vessel (ATV) project, which led to the development of India’s first indigenous nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), INS Arihant.

The vessel, whose keel was laid on 30 June 2014, was initially constructed in a covered dry dock at the shipyard due to its secretive nature. However, for the past several months, the vessel has been docked alongside and is now visible from the Vizag channel with its distinct radome.

The new ship, which has not been given any formal name or Navy designation, will be India’s most advanced electronics and tracking/surveillance vessel — a missile range instrumentation ship.

The ship will be fitted with a primary X band and a secondary S band active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars. In addition, it has a long open deck with ample space for installing multiple missile tracking antennas.

OSS will also carry acoustic equipment, underwater listening devices and other extensive suites of navigation, communications, command and control (C3) equipment. But due to the high secrecy being maintained on the details of the vessel, the exact capabilities and systems on board is not known.

The vessel, designed by Vik Sandvik Design India (VSDI), reportedly has an overall length of 175 m, a beam of 22 m, a depth of 6 m and a displacement of over 10,000 tonnes (15,000 tonnes as per ET report) and is one of the largest warships built at an Indian shipyard.

The ship is powered by two imported 9000kW combined diesel and diesel (CODAD) configuration marine diesel engines and three 1200 ekW auxiliary generators enabling it to have a maximum speed of 21 knots. She is equipped with flightdeck and hanger facilities for a HAL Chetak or HAL Dhruv ALH helicopter, and will have a crew complement of 300.

The ship is expected to be part of India’s Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) program, an elaborate missile shield being developed to deter enemy missile attacks. The complex vessel, which will generate over 14 MW of power just to power up its tracking radars, will have multiple roles for India – from tracking enemy missiles to accurately giving data on tests that are routinely carried out for its indigenous strategic missiles.

Only four other countries — the US, Russia, China and France — operate similar vessels.

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