ew Delhi: The Indian Navy in order to strengthen its mine-warfare capabilities has launched a fresh hunt to buy 12 mine counter-measure vessels (MCMVs) from Indian shipyards. According to a government request for information (RFI) published on August 3, over a period of eight years, the minesweepers would be constructed. The order of minesweepers, capable of finding, destroying and laying mines, order would be split between the lowest and the second-lowest bidding shipyards.
In the past, Indian Navy‘s attempts to buy the MCMVs have failed. The development is significant as the navy currently does not operate even a single minesweeper, with the last among a fleet of six such vessels (bought from the erstwhile Soviet Union in the late 1970s) being decommissioned four years ago, according to sources.
“Twelve MCMVs are planned to be acquired. The anticipated delivery timeline for the MCMVs is proposed between 2030 and 2037. The order is planned to be split between L1 (lowest bidder) and L2 shipyards in the ratio of 8:4, wherein L2 shipyard will be required to construct the ships at the L1 cost,” the RFI said.
The development comes five years after negotiations with a South Korean shipyard for new minesweeper vessels collapsed at the final stage, delivering a blow to the Indian Navy’s efforts to bolster its mine-warfare capabilities. The Rs 32,640-crore programme for 12 MCMVs to be built at Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) in collaboration with a Busan-based yard, Kangnam Corporation, was then pegged as one of the costliest Make in India initiatives. Also, in 2014, the government had scrapped a contract to build minesweepers in India in partnership with Kangnam Corporation amid allegations that the Korean firm had hired middlemen to swing the deal in its favour.
According to the RFI, the MCMVs should be able to carry out operational roles, including mine counter-measure operations using unmanned MCM suite, channel mapping, route survey and sanitisation, search and rescue and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and mine laying. The MCMVs should be capable of operating in Indian Ocean region.