Hon’ble President of India Mrs. Droupadi Murmu launched INS VindhyagiriKolkata. 18 August 2023′ It was an iconic moment for Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Ltd on Wednesday when the Hon’ble President of India Mrs. Droupadi Murmu launched INS Vindhyagiri, the last in the series of three P17 Alpha being built for the Navy by the Kolkata-based shipyard. This is for the first time that a ship being built by an Indian shipbuilder is being launched by the President of India, who is also the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces.

Among the others present at the occasion were the Governor of West Bengal, Dr C.V. Ananda Bose, IAS(Retd.), Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee,  MoS(Defence)Ajay Bhatt, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral P Hari Kumar, PVSM, AVSM, VSM, ADC, Former Captain of Indian Cricket Team  Sourav Ganguly, Cabinet Minister of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs, Government of West Bengal,  Firhad Hakim, Minister of State for Forests & Self Help Employment Group (Independent Charge), Government of West Bengal, Birbaha Hansda, a host of Senior Officers from the Armed Forces and dignitaries from the Centre and State Administration.

The launch of a ship symbolizes its birth. This is the day when a ship is named and feels water for the first time under her keel. The ceremony was conducted in true Indian Maritime Tradition with the breaking of the coconut on the ship’s bow.

The three Nilgiri Class frigates were ordered for approximately Rs 19,200 crore, the largest ever contract being executed by GRSE. The first and second ship of the series INS Himgiri and INS Dunagiri respectively are presently undergoing outfitting at GRSE. To improve quality and shorten build times, P17A Advanced Frigates are being constructed using an Integrated Construction Methodology and improved pre-outfitting. The second ship of this series, INS Dunagiri, was launched on July 15, 2022. Launching of two warships of this size and complexity in just over a year speaks volumes about GRSE’s capabilities as a premier defence shipbuilder.

These ships have a length of 149 metres and a displacement of over 6670 Tons. Their cutting-edge CODOG Propulsion systems allow for speeds of over 28 knots. These frigates are a follow-up of the Shivalik Class (Project P-17) that are already in service with the Navy. The ships under Project 17 Alpha will be far more advanced than any frigate ever operated by the Indian Navy. They are equipped with powerful weapon & sensor packages capable of neutralising threats in all three dimensions – Air, Surface & Sub-surface.
Another distinctive feature of Project 17A is that construction is being carried out by GRSE simultaneously with MDL, based on the basic design created by the Directorate of Naval Design, Indian Navy. An intelligent PDM PLM system is also being implemented to manage the project and aid in its life cycle management.

The Indian Navy had six ‘Nilgiri’ Class frigates which were in service between 1972 and 2012. The INS Vindhyagiri, last of that Class was commissioned on July 8, 1981 and decommissioned on June 14, 2012. It was reborn today as the INS Vindhyagiri, a P17A frigate. Vindhyagiri is the name of one of two hills in Shravanabelagola in Karnataka. It is of great historical and religious significance due to the 18-metre-high statue of Lord Gometeshwara on its summit. It is considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues and can be seen from up to 30 km away.

President Smt Droupadi Murmu in her address said “This launch marks a move forward in enhancing India’s maritime capability. Vindhyagiri is also a step towards achieving the goal of Atmanirbhar Bharat in shipbuilding. The Hon’ble President acknowledged the skill and tireless efforts of team GRSE to achieve the milestone of delivering more than 100 warships. She highlighted the strategic location of Kolkata making it vital for our naval preparedness in safeguarding our maritime interests and maintaining regional stability. She emphasised the importance of the oceans for India’s well-being and growth towards becoming the third largest economy in the world.

Speaking on the occasion, Admiral Hari Kumar stated that the Indian Navy has embarked on a mission of ‘Atmanirbharta’ and the navy shall be investing thousands of crores in the shipbuilding sector which will be enhancing the capacity and capability of Indian shipyards and those employed in the ancillary industry. He said “Vindhyagiri will be a versatile and powerful tool that supports the larger national vision as well as ensure safe secure and prosperous global commons for all. So, while the Giris will contribute to the nation’s role of ensuring ‘Rashtra ki Suraksha’ these ships also will be flag bearers of how the navy also fulfills ‘Rashtra ki Akaansha’.” The CNS reiterated Indian Navy’s unequivocal commitment to be a fully Atmanirbhar navy by 2047 to support the national vision of transforming into a developed nation in this Kartavyakal. He added “Supporting us in the endeavor is Garden Reach Shipyard and Engineers Limited a close and valued partner of the Indian Navy for decades. The shipyard grew significantly over the years and has a good track record in building complex warships. This was underscored by the launch of Himgiri on December 20, Dunagiri in July 2022 and within a short period of 12 months, today’s launch of Vindyagiri. I would like to congratulate the CMD staff and particularly all workers of GRSE the direct general warship designer bureau and the warship production supreme team for their commendable effort in achieving this crucial milestone. I am sure the yard will strive forward, ensure timely commissioning of the ship, and continue to support the navy in delivering reliable high quality and combat worthy ships”.

Addressing the august audience, Cmde PR Hari said “ For us every launch is special. Launch symbolises the birth of a ship but this launch is unique. This beautiful warship in front of you is singularly lucky to have the honour of being named and launched at the hands of none other than the Honourable President of India ,the Supreme Commander of Indian Armed Forces. Therefore I would like to term this launch as a mother of all warship launches.” He emphasised GRSE’s growth starting from 1960 as a DPSU when the shipyard delivered India’s first indigenously built warship INS Ajay in 1961 and has now grown into a mature modern and future ready shipyard that can build small 2.15 metre unmanned vessels to the most advanced and complex weapon intensive warships. CMD GRSE acknowledged the role of all stakeholders in building the ship and said “ For making this launch a reality, a launch with over 37% physical progress of construction, over 60% in terms of displacement as compared to the light ship displacement, I must place on record our appreciation to all our stakeholders, the Indian Navy ,the warship design bureau, The Warship Overseas Team Kolkata, the Professional Directorates of Naval Headquarters, our industry Partners, the OEM and last but not the least team GRSE , all the stakeholders from GRSE officers supervisors ,the operatives ,support staffs and the contracted workforce.”

GRSE has already delivered 108 warships, including two for export to Mauritius and Seychelles. Presently, it is building 26 ships across 6 projects, of which 19 are warships being built for the Indian Navy and 16 of these 19 warships have been won on competitive bidding. All of them have a high percentage of indigenous content that is in keeping with the Government’s strides towards self-reliance or Atmanirbharata. Taking giant strides towards Aatmanirbharta, GRSE is seeking to diversify its business and earlier signed an MoU with M/s Rolls Royce for the co-production of high-speed Marine Diesel Engines. The Shipyard has also recently signed a contract worth Rs 250 Crores (Approx.) for the manufacture and supply of 30 MM Naval Surface Guns to the Indian Navy. The Portable steel bridges production and ship repairs are the two other verticals on an aggressive growth path.