HSL strives to make the dream of ‘Make in India’ a great success: Sarat Babu, CMD

In an exclusive interaction, RAdm LV Sarat Babu, CMD of Hindustan Shipyard Ltd, shares details of the yard with Huma Siddiqui. Following are excerpts:

indian navy, Make in India, Hindustan Shipyard Ltd, Sarat Babu, Fleet Support Vessel, Diving Support Vessels, MRLC, Fleet support ships
RAdm LV Sarat Babu, CMD of Hindustan Shipyard Ltd.

The Navy’s Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP) offers ample opportunities to all shipyards to compete for various types of vessels. In an exclusive interaction, RAdm LV Sarat Babu, CMD of Hindustan Shipyard Ltd, shares details of the yard with Huma Siddiqui. Following are excerpts:

What is the current status of the yard’s order book?

The current Order book status of Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) needs further improvement since we do not have adequate orders to optimally exploit the installed capacity of the Yard. Apart from the ongoing projects which include the Fleet Support Vessel (FSV) and 10 T Tugs for Indian Navy, the Shipyard has recently signed contracts worth about Rs 2000 crore for construction of two Diving Support Vessels (DSV) and Rs 250 crore for construction of four 50 T Bollard Pull Tugs. The Shipyard is also engaged in submarine retrofit and refit of ships from Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, DCI, the Fisheries department and those from private companies.

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There has been long delay in the Strategic Partnership (SP) Model. What impact did it have on your yard?

As you are aware the Government has formalised the SP Model in respect of some of the major strategic military segments. Presently we are awaiting the issue of RFP/Expression of Interest by the Indian Strategic Partner. In so far as HSL is concerned, we are very eager to participate in Project 75(I), the indigenous conventional submarine construction programme. We have therefore expressed our intent to participate in this project to all the concerned entities.

Presently we are undertaking short and long refits of submarines apart from submitting our bids earlier for undertaking Medium Refit and Life certification (MRLC) of submarines. We are competent to participate in this Strategic Partnership programme and make the dream of “Make in India” a great success at our Shipyard.

How do you compare yourself to the private shipyard like Larsen & Toubro and others?

I need to first mention that the era of “Nomination” in general is over. All orders that we have got both in ship building and ship refit in the last four years have been on competitive basis involving the Public sector and the Private sector Shipyards.

As mentioned earlier we have bagged the orders for construction of two DSVs and four 50 T BP Tugs. We are also progressing with the process for signing the contract with the Indian Navy for FSS Project by mid next year. In so far as our comparison with Private shipyards is concerned we have no added advantage. As a matter of fact we compete on equal footing with the private sector while complying with all the policies of Government of India, which may not be totally applicable to the private sector.

Both South Korea and Japanese companies are looking to participate in ventures with Indian Shipyards. Yet they have failed. According to you to what is the problem?

I can only respond to this question in so far as South Korea/HHI is concerned. We have progressed Memorandum of Understanding to build five Fleet support ships (FSS) together with M/s HHI. However due to various contradictory and competing requirements of both sides, the project progress was not resulting in a “win-win” situation. We had to therefore call off our deal with M/s HHI and look for a suitable and credible partner through competitive global tender.

Given the volume of ship building needed for meeting the Navy’s Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP) do you expect any orders in the near future come to your yard?

Yes Of course. The Navy’s Maritime Capability Perspective Plan (MCPP) offers ample opportunities to all of us to compete for various types of vessels. I am now confident that our yard has the “Confidence, Commitment, Capability and Capacity” to undertake most of the types of ship construction. We will be bidding for almost all the tenders and we are confident that HSL would strive to have continuous inflow of ship building; ship repair and submarine retrofit projects.

Some the vessels made with the Russian expertise are still going to Russia for refitting/repairs. Does it mean we don’t have the capability to undertake these in India?

This is regarding MRLC of submarines. Although the first three submarines have gone or are in the process of going to Russia for MRLC, we are hopeful that we will get the opportunity to conduct MRLC of the 4th submarine in India. There are a few issues involving requirement of requisite Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) support in niche areas. However, given the experience and expertise that we had derived over the last twenty years I am sure that we should be a Credible and Competent shipyard to bid for 4th MRLC at our yard.

How do you envision the future of HSL?

After almost a gap of five decades, HSL has turned around since Jan 2016 and we have been continuously posting operating and net profits over the last four financial years. Our VOP/Turnover has also doubled and all our operational and financial indices have drastically improved. With the guidance and oversight by the DDP and DPE we expect to soon achieve ‘Mini Ratna Status’.

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