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Indian Shipbuilding Industry Updates & Discussions

Discussion in 'Indian Defence Industry' started by ManuSankar, Aug 21, 2012.

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  1. ManuSankar

    ManuSankar Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    New yards, techniques, to speed up warship building

    A humming construction site in Mumbai’s Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) holds the promise of a new era in warship building in India. Everything about this emerging new shipyard is enormous: the 200-metre-long workshop; a Goliath crane that dwarfs everything around; and an expansive “wet basinâ€, which is an enclosed harbour that will comfortably house two large warships.

    This is MDL’s new Rs 826 crore “modular†shipyard that is expected to slash down the time taken to build warships for the Indian Navy. Defence shipyards currently take over ten years to build major warships like destroyers, frigates and corvettes. When the new yard is commissioned in June 2013, frigates will be built in 60 months; destroyers will take 72 months.

    Building warships faster is crucial for the navy. Its Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP) of 2005 envisions a 160-ship navy, with 90 capital warships like aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and corvettes. Today, however, the navy has just 134 ships, with less than half the destroyers and frigates it needs. Bridging this gap of 26 ships, while also replacing warships that are being decommissioned after completing their 30-40 year service lives, requires a major boost in indigenous build capability.

    To achieve this, MDL --- along with the other big defence shipyard, Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers, Kolkata (GRSE) --- is abandoning traditional shipbuilding. That involves welding a hull together and launching it into water, after which swarms of craftsmen painstakingly work in the warship’s cramped compartments, installing propulsion gear, electrically equipment, weapons, sensors and hundreds of kilometres of pipes and wiring. This is a slow process.

    Instead, construction will now be like a giant Lego game: convenient 300-ton blocks will be built separately, and then assembled together into a complete warship. Each block will be fabricated in a well-lit, ventilated workshop with multi-level access, and will be complete with all the piping, electrical wiring and fitments that run through a ship. Each block must dovetail precisely with its neighbouring block, every wire, pipe and compartment coming together in perfect alignment.

    PK Bhattacharjee, General Manager of the Mazagon Modernisation Project (MMP), who is conducting Business Standard through an exclusive, pre-inauguration tour of the shipyard, explains what happens next. After a block is completed in the worker-friendly environment of the modular workshop, the workshop’s roof is retracted and the rail-mounted Goliath crane reaches in and lifts out the 300-tonne block. It then transports it to the slipway where it takes its place in the warship that is taking shape. After about 20 blocks come together, the 3000-tonne semi-built warship is launched into the water and towed to the “wet basinâ€, where the superstructure, and weapons and sensors are put in.

    “The capability to lift 300 tonnes is what makes modular shipbuilding possible. For decades, we have worked with 40-tonne cranes,†explains Battacharjee.

    The first warships that will emerge from this process are 7 frigates of Project 17A. MDL will build four frigates, while GRSE will build three. The Project 17A frigates will be outwardly similar to their predecessors, the three Shivalik-class frigates of Project 17, which MDL has just completed. But modular shipbuilding is expected to ensure that Project 17A is completed must faster.

    Back in MDL’s corporate office the new chairman, Rear Admiral (Retired) Rahul Kumar Shrawat, explains that the technological challenge of modular shipbuilding lies in designing each 300-tonne block so that it is fully kitted and fits exactly into the next. Since this process is new to India, Fincantieri, an Italian shipbuilder, will provide consultancy for the new design process.

    “MDL’s board, in coordination with our partner shipyard, GRSE, will decide on the design consultancy for Project 17A. It will be a shipyard’s decision. The navy has specified only that integrated (modular) construction must take place,†says Shrawat.

    Dutch company, Royal Haskoning, has functioned as prime consultant for the MMP, which has taken five years. Haskoning has prepared the design, organised site surveys and geotechnical investigations and is now supervising construction. Hyderabad-based Nagarjuna Construction has done the civil works, including the 8000 square metre workshop with a retractable roof.

    A key construction challenge has been the Goliath crane, a Rs 89 crore, 2200-tonne structure that traverses on rails and extends 138 metres across the yard. Designed by Konecrane of Finland, the Goliath crane was physically erected by Fagioli of Italy. Kolkata-based company, McNally Bharat, was the Indian contractor.

    Most pleasing to MDL officials is the third element of the MMP: a new wet basin that offers 25,000 square metres of berthing space for under-construction warships. MDL has long functioned with just the 14,000 square metre Kasara Wet Basin, which was built in 1774 to service warships of the East India Company. But, with three projects simultaneously ongoing, MDL had to berth under-construction warships at the Naval Dockyard, several kilometres away, transporting labour, stores and machinery to the naval facility everyday.

    From next month, the wet basin and the Goliath crane will start functioning. The rest of the workshop is scheduled to be inaugurated in June 2013.

    Broadsword: New yards, techniques, to speed up warship building
     
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  2. ManuSankar

    ManuSankar Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Can defence save Indian shipbuilding?

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    India’s leading shipbuilding company Cochin Shipyard started operations in 1972, the same year that Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries launched its shipbuilding venture. Forty years later, the Korean company claims a market share of 15 per cent in the global shipbuilding industry, having delivered more than 1,686 ships to 268 ship-owners in 48 countries ever since its inception. Cochin Shipyard’s total deliveries, on the other hand, are expected to be 107 by the end of 2012.

    The disparity in the performance of the two companies highlights the sad state of the shipbuilding industry in India which has seen commercial orders vanish over the past several years. Now, though, ship building is getting a new lease of life with the opening up of defence sector orders to private shipyards.

    Recently, when Goa-based Dempo shipbuilding picked up a 74-per-cent stake in Modest Infra, one of the driving factors was the latter’s defence orders. “Naval orders are big growth area for us,” said Srinivas Dempo, chairman, Dempo Group. Modest Infra has 7 fuel supply vessels at a total of 4,000 dead weight tonnage commissioned by the navy and to be delivered to them by 2013.


    Other deals abound. Cochin Shipyard’s order book for the next three years includes 29 ships, out of which 20 are coast guard vessels and aircraft carriers. Pipavav Shipyard has joined hands with Mazagaon Docks while Larsen & Toubro is set to partner with Hindustan shipyard. Mazagaon Docks, which has a naval order book of Rs 1 lakh crore, has been lagging behind in the delivery of the orders due to capacity constraints.

    L&T also recently tied up with Japanese heavy engineering major, Mitsubishi in order to leverage the Japanese company’s technical and design expertise. “While defence is a thrust area, we are expecting a lot of growth to come from the offshore industry,” said A Thapliyal, chief executive officer, L&T shipbuilding.

    Governmental neglect

    Whether India will be able to ape the success of countries like Korea, Japan or China on a global platform, however, is questionable. Countries where shipbuilding has emerged as a major business, experts say, have had a strong government backing complete with cheaper loans, indirect subsidies etc. “We have not reached a stage where we can enjoy economies of scale like Korea or China. In India we produce around 20 ships in a year while developed shipbuilding markets make from 70 to 100 ships in a year,” said D Datar, chief financial officer, ABG shipyard. Due to this, almost 90 per cent of equipment for manufacturing ships is sourced from overseas.

    Shipyards, meanwhile, blame the government for not helping to provide a level playing field with global competitors. The government had extended the shipbuilding subsidy scheme from 2002 to 2007. While the scheme and a temporary boom in the industry prevailed, the scheme was discontinued and along with a recession, sunk the industry. The figures speak for themselves: During 2002 and 2007, India’s order book increased fourfold, from 0.3 million DWT to nearly 1.3 million DW, and accompanied by an impressive increase in global market share. After 2007, the share in new orders has progressively declined from 0.67 per cent in 2007 to 0.02 per cent in 2009 and 0.13 per cent in 2010. This decline in share is not evident for yards in other countries like China and Korea as they continued to receive support, both direct and indirect even during the recession.

    Up to snuff?

    Now, however, it isn’t a subsidy, but defence orders that are trying to salvage Indian shipbuilding. What has made defence an attractive option for private players is that cost or time consideration, experts say, don’t matter as much. In commercial ship orders, these are two areas where shipyards have often slipped. However, the pressure to provide a ‘quality product’ is far higher in the defence sector, due to security and strategic implications.

    A senior executive of Great Eastern Shipping Company recalled an instance where the company had placed an order for a bulk carrier with one of the leading shipyards. The yard not only delivered the vessel four years past the delivery date, the imported steel on the hull had rusted during the long gestation period. “Defence is not a sustainable option for private sector companies although they will get first right of refusal, price preference and such benefits in getting a local contract. But will they be able to provide warships to the world?” the senior executive said. Technological constraints are also considered a big hurdle in the construction of various vessels, more so in defence where technological expertise is closely guarded.

    With no prior experience and expertise to make defence ships, industry experts therefore have ample reason to doubt why private sector firms may not yet be able to become world class shipbuilders. Yet, shipbuilders have no option but to forge ahead. “In the current market scenario, the opportunity cost for companies, if they do not go for naval orders, would be to manufacture nothing. In doing so the companies cannot recover the fixed cost. This is likely to give them subsistence income but not profits,” said Hemant Bhattbhatt, senior director, Deloitte India.

    This is hardly good news for an industry looking to make a comeback.

    Can defence save Indian shipbuilding? | idrw.org
     
  3. Devil

    Devil Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    there is hope but it wil take alot of govt intervention most likely will depend on if modi wins and is view wil he go for domestic defense industry or keep bringing in international stuff in india
     
  4. kum

    kum 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    It's good that MDL is introducing new technologies of shipbuilding.
     
  5. ManuSankar

    ManuSankar Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Towards maritime power

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    The modular shipyard being constructed at Mazagon Dock, during the process of installing the Goliath crane

    India’s warship building capability is ramping up with our most experienced shipyards, Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai (MDL) and Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers, Kolkata (GRSE), soon to deploy vastly improved infrastructure. Their new integrated yards, which are geared for “modular” shipbuilding, are expected to reduce the time needed to build a warship while also improving construction quality. This will help create the 160-ship armada that South Block requires for the Indo-Pacific region, which is looming ever larger as the world’s most vital geo-strategic patch.

    Defence shipyards like MDL and GRSE have been building for decades, hamstrung by global technology denial regimes and Indian industry’s technological limitations. Over time, these shipyards have gained invaluable experience in the many complex facets of building warships. Their prime customer, the Indian Navy, is pleased with the battle-worthiness of the vessels that it gets. Speed of construction, however, has remained well below international benchmarks.

    It would be tempting to conclude that the inauguration of MDL’s and GRSE’s new shipyards would ensure that warships are now delivered in short order. But for that, the ability to build quickly is not enough. As important as new shipyards is the need for a new mindset amongst navy and defence ministry (MoD) planners, which could better balance between two conflicting requirements: firstly, the imperative to build and deliver warships without delay; and secondly, the desire to incorporate the most modern weapons, sensors and systems in the warships under construction. As we have seen in the new Project 15A destroyers being built by MDL, construction has been held up because some of the weaponry that was developed alongside the warship is not yet ready to enter service.

    This is the textbook dilemma of warship designing. On the one hand, developmental delays can be minimised by designing the warship around only tried and tested systems. On the other hand, building a vessel that will remain in frontline service for three to four decades demands that it be absolutely state-of-the-art at the time that it is built. The temptation for every user --- the Indian Navy is not alone in this --- is to adopt “concurrent development”. This involves designing many of the key systems even as the warship is being built, delivering these just in time to be fitted in the new warship. The risks of this strategy are evident in Project 15A, where developmental delays in its new air defence missile, the Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR-SAM), have stalled the construction of three warships. Fortunately war is not imminent, but such a delay would be ruinous if it came.

    It must be noted that MDL and GRSE are not India’s first integrated shipyards that are capable of “modular” construction. In the private sector, Pipavav Shipyard already has such capabilities, as will L&T’s shipyard at Kathupalli, when it is commissioned later this year. What these private shipyards do not have is the experience of building complex warships, a task that is to commercial shipbuilding as tight-wire walking is to a stroll in the park. The MoD must build up their experience with progressively complex warships, rather than bestowing its warship building projects to the defence shipyards, which are already loaded far beyond their capacities. This will multiply India’s capacity and help the navy reach and maintain the force levels that it needs.

    Broadsword: Towards maritime power
     
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