Ships Of State – on India’s Naval Strength

Source– The post is based on the article “Ships Of State” published in the “The Times of India” on 19th September 2023.

Syllabus: GS3- Internal Security

Relevance- Issues related to armed forces

News– Indian navy has ordered 68 warships and vessels.

What are the challenges faced by the Indian navy?

Strength- Currently, India’s navy boasts 132 warships alongside 143 aircraft and 130 helicopters. The target is to increase the fleet to a minimum of 175 warships by 2035.

In contrast, China already possesses the world’s largest navy. It comprises 355 warships and submarines. The projections indicate that this number will expand to 555 within the next five to six years.

Production- It is widely acknowledged that India’s shipbuilding rate is very low. While China constructs approximately 14 warships annually, India manages only four.

There has been an improvement in construction speed. But the retirement of older ships continually puts India at a disadvantage.

For instance, despite the induction of five Scorpene submarines, the navy falls short by eight submarines compared to the target of 24 by 2030.

Indigenization- India has achieved 90% indigenization in the float component of warships but has fallen short in the propulsion and fight components (weapons and sensors).

Operational- India’s strategic presence spans the Indo-Pacific from Africa to the western Pacific. So, establishing navy-led joint theatre commands is crucial.

However, the process of establishing theatre commands has been slow.

What should be done?

There is a pressing need to enhance the navy’s capital budget, expand the technical foundation for warship construction and recognize the economic benefits of warship building.

A strong political push is needed to expedite this process. There should be a greater emphasis on increasing the navy’s capital budget and diversifying the technical expertise in warship construction.

Furthermore, warship construction can have a multiplier effect. One shipyard job creating up to six jobs in related industries.

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