CHENNAI: L&T Shipbuilding has plans for its Kattupalli Shipyard, just 30 kilometres from Chennai. Most of these could well see the shipyard become a major naval production hub in the private sector. According to the company’s managing director and CEO, Vice Admiral (Retd) B Kannan, the company has already decided that the yard will be dedicated to defence contracts.
“The management has decided, for now, that we will concentrate exclusively on defence contracts for the Kattupalli Shipyard, both from the Indian Navy as well as from friendly navies in the surrounding region,” he said. The company’s plans, in tandem with the Indian Navy’s aims to privatise a lot of its shipbuilding contracts, is likely to see the yard have a continuous pipeline of projects.
Speaking at the launch of India’s first indigenous floating dock at the shipyard on Monday, the Navy’s Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, Vice Admiral DM Deshpande, pointed out that while public sector shipyards had been building almost all of the Navy’s indigenous production, an increasingly bigger role for private shipyards is planned.
“We have a maritime perspective plan and it enumerates a list of vessels/systems where we would like private sector participation. We would like to start private Indian participation, through strategic partnerships, for less-weapons intensive systems first,” Deshpande admitted. However, even these conditions leave huge opportunities open for private players. “This can take a lot of pressure off defence PSUs.”
This year is set to be a very important one for the Kattupalli Shipyard, which possesses a unique shiplift system that only a handful can boast of having globally. “There are around four important Naval projects in the pipeline for this year — this is a big year for naval shipbuilding,” said Kannan.
L&T Shipbuilding is already busy with other defence contracts. The Indian Coast Guard has mandated the building of seven offshore patrol vessels (OPV) of which two will be launched in the second half of the year. It has also launched 32 of the 54 interceptor boats that the Coast Guard has ordered and is also working on orders from the Vietnamese Navy for coastal vessels.
The yard could also become a major refit destination, especially for vessels it builds. The yard has already done four refits during the 2016-17 financial year and expects to see substantial business from the refit/repair business too.
- According to L&T Shipbuilding, the FDN-2 dock can repair/refit any of the Indian Navy’s vessels, except for aircraft carriers and tankers.
- The dock has been designed and built entirely in-house. Except for some sections which the Navy had specified, everything else has been made and built by L&T. “Even submarines can be serviced in the FDN-2. The dock can manage either one large ship, or even two small ships, totalling up to 8,000 tonnes. Aircraft carriers and tankers are classes of vessels that are too big and require a dry dock,” Vice Admiral (Retd) B Kannan, MD & CEO, L&T Shipbuilding, pointed out.
- As per tradition, the dock was officially launched by Anjali, wife of Navy’s Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, Vice Admiral DM Deshpande, and will undergo several trials in the next few weeks before being delivered to the Indian Navy at Port Blair.
- “We expect the project to be delivered within schedule this year,” said JD Patil, senior executive vice president, L&T. The level of indigenisation achieved is also a major plus for the Navy, Patil pointed out.