Amphibious Vessels To Strengthen Indian Navy

INS Jalashwa
The Indian government
has cleared the Rs 2,176-crore acquisition of eight specialised vessels
or LCUs (landing craft utility), capable of “hard beaching” on enemy
shores, to boost the country’s amphibious warfare and island protection

This comes even as the defence ministry is
finalizing another project to acquire four huge amphibious warfare
ships, called Landing Platform Docks (LPDs) for “stand-off beaching”,
for around Rs 16,000 crore.

The LCUs and LPDs will help in
swiftly transporting thousands of troops, heavy weapon systems and
infantry combat vehicles over long distances to take the battle right to
the enemy mainland.

The Cabinet Committee on Security cleared
the LCU project for the eight amphibious assault vessels, to be built
by the Kolkata-based defence PSU Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers
Ltd, a couple of days ago. “The first LCU will be delivered in three
years,” said an official.

The LCUs are likely to be based at
India’s first and only regional ‘theatre command’, the
strategically-located Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC), which will
complete 10 years of existence next month.

With additional
airstrips, OTR (operational turn around) bases and jetties, ANC is
slowly being transformed into a major amphibious warfare hub. A strong
military presence in the 572-island archipelago is considered imperative
to counter China’s strategic moves in the Indian Ocean as well as
ensure security of the sea lanes converging towards Malacca Strait.

The armed forces have been sharpening their amphibious warfare skills
with a series of exercises over the last few years to practice
blitzkrieg assaults on enemy territory from the sea.

All this
gained momentum after the induction of the 16,900-tonne INS Jalashwa,
known as USS Trenton earlier, and its six UH-3H Sea King troop-carrying
helicopters for around $88 million from the US in 2007.

The second-hand Jalashwa, currently undergoing a refit, has given the Navy
“strategic sealift capabilities” since it is capable of transporting
four landing craft, six helicopters and a battalion of 1,000 fully-armed
soldiers or a squadron of tanks over large distances.

The Army,
on its part, has three specifically-earmarked amphibious brigades, with
almost 10,000 soldiers, one based in South India, another in West India
and the third at ANC.

The Navy in recent years has also
inducted other large amphibious warships like INS Airavat, which can
carry 10 main-battle tanks, 11 combat trucks and 500 soldiers.

Incidentally, the four new LPDs, which will be built by Hindustan
Shipyard (HSL) as well as private shipyards in collaboration with a
foreign manufacturer, will be similar to Jalashwa in terms of size and
sea-lift capabilities.