KOLKATA: The Indian Navy has only two minesweeper warships and urgently requires 12 more to secure its coastline and trade routes, Rear Admiral Rajaram Swaminathan, Assistant Chief of Material, Indian Navy said on Sunday.
Speaking at the launch of a Naval fuel barge here on Sunday, the Navy officer said that the government was looking for foreign partners for Defence Public Sector Undertaking Goa Shipyard Limited for manufacturing 12 minesweepers for Rs 32,000 crore.
A Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence had last year slammed the government for delay in manufacture of the minesweepers.
Minesweepers are small naval ships that detect and destroy underwater mines and are essential in keeping shipping lanes safe.
India had 12 minesweepers of Pondicherry class and Karwar class procured from the Soviet Union from 1978-80 and 1980-86 respectively. They were heavily armed with surface-to-air missiles and also worked in anti-submarine warfare. However, all but two were decommissioned due to completion of service life.
Minesweepers saw massive action in World War II during American efforts to keep convoys to Europe through Atlantic Ocean safe from German U-boat attacks. In India, they are mostly deployed along oil routes of Persian Gulf and Strait of Malacca.