Buoyed by its recent success in exporting for the first time a corvette class warship to Mauritius, Garden Reach Ship Builders and Engineers (GRSE), a Kolkata-based public sector unit, is in race to export landing ship tanks (LST) and portable bridges to countries in Latin America.
In an exclusive interview with FE, Rear Admiral AK Verma (retd), chairman and managing director of GRSE said, “The company is looking to expand towards the east as well as to Latin America. And we are in talks with Venezuela for the LST craft and Peru has asked us to build portable bridges for connectivity in tough terrains there.”
The LST is an amphibious ship used for movement of troops and tanks etc, and the portable bridges are usually used by the army in rough terrains.
“As part of expansion plans we are looking at initiating a dialogue with the government to explore opportunities in the export of defence ships and technology tie-ups with Latin American, African and Gulf countries,” the GRSE CMD said, adding that tie-ups can be in both manufacturing and technology sharing.
The company has had the preliminary rounds of talks with the Venezuela government for its requirement of an LST and has offered its suggestions about the design of the craft. The process will take some time before anything is firmed up with the LatAm country as the concept of the design itself takes time to freeze.
“We have been looking out to export ships for about a year and half, however under the Modi government there is more urgency and stress on exports,” a senior GRSE officer said, while explaining fresh forays of the shipyard to foreign shores.
The ministry of external affairs has been pushing the country’s DPSUs to promote their wares overseas and it is under this initiative that DPSU like GRSE has been actively in talks with various countries offering to build warships for friendly nations.
“As for the portable bridges, there was an inquiry from the government of Peru for these bridges and what we had to offer them was immediately accepted and we shall be firming up the deal very soon with that country,” officials said.
The company is looking at securing export orders from in the Far East, Africa and Gulf countries too. There have been requests from countries like Egypt, Oman for LST. Besides, it is also in the race to export two light Frigates – about 3500 tons each at a total cost of Rs 2000 crore – to The Philippines.
For the Philippines order, GRSE is competing with six foreign ship yards – Navantia, Spain, STX, France and Hyundai, Daewoo, and STX from Korea.