INS Chennai’s addition to the Indian Navy’s operations and defence capabilities at the sea cannot be overstated. Add to that the fact that INS Chennai is said to be the largest-ever warship built in India, giving a major fillip to the indigenous ship-building prowess. Also, at a time when tensions with Pakistan and China are rising, an addition to the Indian Navy’s defence arsenal sends a strong message to the neighbouring countries.
INS Chennai packs a potent punch with formidable missile power (BrahMos, Barak-8), anti-submarine warfare (HUMSA-NG, heavyweight torpedo tube launchers, rocket launchers) and state-of-the-art decoy systems to defend against the enemy’s missiles (Kavach chaff decoy system) and torpedoes (‘Mareech’ torpedo decoy system). The INS Chennai has an overall length of 164 meters and displacement of over 7,500 tons. The ship is a potent platform capable of undertaking a variety of tasks and missions, spanning the full spectrum of maritime warfare, the Indian Navy says.
Also check: 10 stunning images of the INS Chennai
How important is INS Chennai for Indian Navy’s ambitions? Says Abhijit Singh, Head of Maritime Policy initiative at Observer Research Foundation (ORF), “The INS Chennai, and all Kolkata-class destroyers, are actually an improved version of the Delhi-class of warships. The INS Chennai and other guided missile destroyers under Project 15A help the Indian Navy and the country achieve multiple goals.”
Abhijit Singh, who is also a retired naval officer, says, “Firstly, the Indian Navy wants to be seen as a net security provider in the Indian Ocean Region and even to an extent the Asia-Pacific region. So, to that extent the warship helps in power projection capability. Secondly, it would greatly help India in its ambitions of maritime diplomacy. Increasingly, Indian ships are visiting the East-African coast and the Arabian Gulf regions. The INS Chennai would be a huge asset and would also help India showcase its indigenous ship-building capabilities and top weapons system that have also been made in India. Thirdly, given that India is reduced to operating one aircraft carrier at sea, the addition on one more missile destroyer is good for operations.” “INS Chennai would also work well for India’s Act East policy,” Singh tells FE Online.
Ankur Gupta, Vice President-Aerospace & Defence at Ernst Young India agrees that the learnings from the ship-building programme, especially given the Modi government’s Make in India focus, will go a long way in helping indigenous defence manufacturing. “This (INS Chennai) is the last of the P-15A guided missile destroyers designed by the Indian Navy and built by MDL. Even though the vessels have been delayed by quite some period of time, the learnings and capability buildup due to the program is valuable,” Ankur Gupta tells FE Online. “This experience will now propel the vessels under P-15B whose construction has begun and with higher expectations,” he adds.