With the government placing increased attention on India’s maritime interests, there is a growing requirement of warships for the Indian Navy. Under these circumstances, defence shipbuilders like Mazagon Dock Ltd have their work cut out. The warship builder has worked out a collaborative strategy for taking the nation towards self-sufficiency in warship construction. MDL chairman and managing director, rear admiral (retired) R K Shrawat had an interaction with FE’s Huma Siddiqui. Excerpts:
Reports suggest that you are very heavily loaded and that this backlog will prevent you from taking on any further orders. What exactly is the status of your order book?
During the last three years, three major warships have been delivered to the Indian Navy. As of now, there is only one ship left for delivery, from the past orders. This ship, ‘Chennai’, is also being readied for commissioning next year. This will complete the P-15A series. Deliveries of ships under Projects P-15B, P-17A and Scorpene-class submarines are scheduled with effect from September 2016, and will continue till 2025. Thus, as of today, there is no real backlog. In terms of value of production (VOP), only R524 crore. The backlog has been cleared in the last three years.
What about your VOP backlog?
Our order book value of Rs 74,801 crore can be broken up into executable orders (Rs 49,074 crore) and orders yet to reach an executable stage (Rs 25,727 crore).
What is the current position of P-75 submarines, and can you take on additional projects?
Kalvari, the first P-75 boat, was launched at MDL in October 2015 and is scheduled to join the fleet in September 2016 under the contract. Timelines for the delivery of successive boats have been compressed to nine months and the project is expected to be completed by 2020. Hull fabrication of all six submarines is complete. As a result, this facility is now idling. Also, a new workshop is being created in our Alcock Yard and is expected to be commissioned very soon. With this facility, a parallel, second line of construction of submarines can be activated in MDL. Besides this, the expertise gained in the construction of these boats puts MDL in a unique position to take on any further orders, be it the extension of the Scorpene project or of P-75I.
What steps are proposed to be taken by MDL for enhancing productivity for future projects?
MDL has recently undergone a massive modernisation programme, which includes, among other things, a module workshop and a 300 T Goliath crane. Ships of future projects commencing with 17A will therefore be built using the integrated construction methodology, which is expected to bring down timelines. A know-how provider has been appointed for initial hand-holding. We see a brighter future for ship construction in India.
What difference has the new government made in the functioning of MDL or in general all defence PSUs?
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar, after taking over, has moved promptly and taken a personal interest in resolving issues which were affecting the performance of DPSUs. He has taken periodic reviews at the MoD with all stakeholders and given specific time-bound directions. This has provided a renewed energy in the DPSUs as well as a renewed synergy between the MoD, the navy and shipyards. As a consequence of such direction, the pace of work on all projects at MDL has accelerated, whereby MDL has achieved its highest ever VOP of Rs 3,500 crore. This is 22% higher than the previous year, which itself is another record. He has also taken a personal interest in the submarine construction programme and the result is that the Scorpene project is back on track after years of stalemate.