Major Warships Crippled by Lack of Spares for Upgrades - The New Indian Express

Major Warships Crippled by Lack of Spares for Upgrades

Published: 06th April 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 06th April 2014 08:25 AM

India’s major warships are facing a shortage of spare parts for their normal, medium and short refit programmes that might explain the regular accidents, including equipment failures that have happened in recent times.

For all warships, particularly those of Russian origin, only 50 per cent spares are available with the Mumbai and Visakhapatnam naval dockyards for their refits. These are much below the demand for spares and have resulted in delays in the refit programmes or in low satisfaction levels after the refits. These refits are usually midlife upgrades of the warships, required to make these modern fighting machines last longer than their envisaged service life that could extend from 20 to 30 years.

In the 37 warships recently audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for refit performance, it was found that lack of spare parts hit the midlife upgrades, including those of key surface combatants.

Among the warships hit include the Delhi class and Rajput class mainline Destroyers; amphibious warships such as the recently inducted INS Jalashwa bought from the US in 2007, apart from Gharial and Magar; and the Talwar class frigates built at a Russian shipyard.

Among those audited included those involved in recent accidents/incidents reported since August 2013, including INS Talwar, INS Vipul and INS Konkan.

A minor fire was reported on board INS Konkan, a minesweeper, when it was under a refit programme at the Visakhapatnam naval dockyard in early December 2013. INS Vipul, a corvette/missile vessel, reported a gaping hole found in the pillar compartment in late 2013.

Though the CAG audit has not directly linked the incidents involving the three warships in the last seven months to the lack of spares, the report submitted by the government auditor to the Parliament in February points towards the lack of best practices for maintenance of key strategic assets of the Navy and the Defence Ministry establishments in charge of procurements.

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