India to boost warship production: official

By on Monday, December 28th, 2009

New Delhi: India announced plans Thursday to shift control of a major shipyard to the military to boost naval warship production amid complaints of delays in existing projects.

The announcement came two days after the military expressed concern about India’s depleted underwater combat capabilities due to delays in constructing tactical submarines for the 134-ship navy.

Information Minister Ambika Soni said the cabinet would transfer control of the country’s second largest shipyard, Hindustan Shipbuilding Yard, to the military from the shipping industry.

“It is going to be transferred to the ministry of defence for meeting national security requirements of building strategic vessels for the Indian navy,” Soni told a news conference after a cabinet meeting.

On Tuesday, a top government security panel said it was worried about delays in a 30 billion-rupee (6.6 billion-dollar) project codenamed P75-India to build six submarines by 2015.

“Concern over the delays had been expressed by the navy and the defence ministry,” a senior government official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The navy, which launched its first nuclear-powered submarine in July, praised Soni’s announcement.

“It is a forward step and will go a long way to assist in the nation’s indigenous warship-building activity,” navy spokesman commander K.V. Satish told AFP.

Satish said the navy had regarded the “current rate of warship building as inadequate”.

He also said a 2.4 billion-euro (three billion-dollar) project to locally build six Franco-Spanish Scorpene submarines had also been delayed because of capacity restraints.

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