Fast Patrol Vessel (FPV), Yard 2118, was christened Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Kamla Devi by Neela Pathania, wife of Virender Singh Pathania, Director General, Indian Coast Guard at a shipyard near Kolkata on Monday during its launching ceremony.
The ship has an interesting history. She is the last in a series of five such FPVs that Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Ltd was contracted to build for the ICG. GRSE had already completed the fifth and last FPV of this series well within schedule but it was exported to the Republic of Seychelles as the SCG PS Zoroaster by the government of India in 2021.
GRSE then tied up with Titagarh Wagons Ltd (TWL) on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) basis to build a replacement vessel of this class at the latter’s shipyard at Titagarh, North 24-Parganas.
Apart from DG Pathania, among those present during Monday’s ceremony were Cmde PR Hari (retd), Chairman and Managing Director (officiating), GRSE Ltd and Umesh Chowdhury, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, TWL. GRSE, for long, has been trying to develop a vibrant ecosystem in shipbuilding in the region to boost the economy and generate employment.
This tie-up with TWL is a step towards this. Cmde Hari, in his address, also mentioned how GRSE plans tie-ups with Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to achieve future goals.
Incidentally, ICGS Kamla Devi is named after social reformer Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay who worked towards the upliftment of artisans and craftsmen across the country and development of the performing arts. She also worked for the socio-economic upliftment of women in India. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay was awarded the Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award.
The keel of ICGS Kamla Devi was laid on July 15, 2021 and in less than 10 months, nearly 60 per cent of the ship has been completed. GRSE has proven experience in the development and construction of patrol vessels, having delivered over 40 of them to the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard since 1960.
These class of FPVs developed in-house by GRSE as per the Coast Guard’s specifications are highly advanced. They are 48.9 meters long and 7.5 meters wide. With three main engines with advanced control systems, water jet units and an Integrated Bridge System, these ships can attain a maximum speed of 34 knots and have an endurance of 1,500 nautical miles. They are fitted with a 40/60 Gun as the main armament. They have fully air-conditioned modular accommodation for a crew of 35.
The FPVs of this class are fuel efficient and are used for extensive patrolling of India’s maritime zones. They are used for anti-smuggling, anti-poaching and rescue operations at sea. Pathania, during his address, also spoke on the ICGs long association with GRSE.
“GRSE’s association with the Indian Coast Guard goes way back to 1980. The first ship we built for the Force was the CGS Rajhans, a high-speed patrol vessel. We have delivered 105 ships to the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard and two to Mauritius and Seychelles. Of the 105 warships delivered, 35 have been for the Indian Coast Guard. GRSE is capable of building vessels ranging from 5-tonne boats to 24,600-tonne fleet tankers. We have provided 90 per cent indigenous content on our latest ships like the Anti-Submarine Warfare Corvettes and Landing Crafts. In the last 5 years, we have delivered 19 warships. This is a record,” Cmde Hari said.
He also spoke on how GRSE is now building 23 ships. Orders for 19, including 7 international vessels, were bagged through competitive bidding. Even during the pandemic, GRSE continued to deliver ships to the Navy and Coast Guard.
The shipyard and all its units have witnessed overall progress. While modular bridges built by GRSE are now in high demand for use along India’s borders, the Diesel Engine Plant (DEP) in Ranchi is delivering 1MW diesel alternators for the Navy’s P17A Stealth Frigates.
“The future looks promising for GRSE, thanks to our continuous research and innovation, excellent product quality and world class infrastructure. This is backed by strong corporate structure and governance, coupled with competent and experienced human capital and strategic alliances with competent private players. We are also in the final phase of a visioning exercise with a private consultancy firm which would enable us to improve upon our operational efficiency,” the GRSE CMD added.