Kolkata, Jul 15 (PTI) Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday launched stealth frigate ‘Dunagiri’, built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), on River Hooghly here, and said that Indian Navy is fast advancing on the path of self reliance.
Singh also said that security challenges in the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific region are on the rise owing to piracy, drugs and arms smuggling, illegal fishing and natural disasters. “It is the mandate of the Indian Navy to protect, preserve and promote the country’s maritime security interest in the whole region,” he stated.
The Union minister asserted that India has always maintained strong relations with its neighbours Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Myanmar and Maldives. “We want to maintain friendly relations with all our neighbouring countries,” Singh said in his address at the launch of the P17A stealth frigate.
If India is increasing its strength, it is not just for own interests but for friends too, he contended. “I believe this ship will prove to be a very big asset in this direction,” Singh said. The minister insisted that India has changed the perception of the country’s maritime prowess from a buyers’ navy to a builders’ navy.
“Our Navy is fast advancing on the path of self reliance. Launching such warships with indigenous designs and with the high technical ability of Indian shipyards, ancillary industries and MSMEs displays India’s self-reliance,” Singh said. He said that the Navy has to be the first responders in any contingency, be it domestic or international.
“We have to be always ready to support our friends and partners in their needs,” he pointed out. Noting that underwater drones apparently used for drug trafficking have recently been found in Spain, he said that the Navy and the Coast Guard are required to be more alert.
“For this purpose, we have to augment our infrastructure and assets so as to meet the new challenges,” he said, adding that reorienting personnel training is also very important for the purpose. As per maritime traditions, the christening ceremony of the new frigate was performed by Kala Hari Kumar, wife of Admiral R Hari Kumar, the Chief of Naval Staff.
Apart from the admiral, vice admiral Biswajit Dasgupta, the flag officer commanding-in-chief of Eastern Naval Command, Lt General R P Kalita, the general officer commanding-in-chief of Eastern Army Command, and Commodore (retd) P R Hari, the chairman and managing director of GRSE, were present at the event.
The defence minister expressed satisfaction at the Navy’s efforts in increasing its capabilities and endurance. He hailed Bengal’s contributions to the country’s freedom struggle, cultural renaissance and scientific development. Dunagiri is the second of three Project 17A advanced frigates being built by GRSE.
The first P17A frigate developed by GRSE was launched in December, 2020 by Madhulika Rawat, wife of then chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat. P17A ships are guided missile frigates, each of which is 149 metres long, with displacement of approximately 6,670 tonnes and a speed of 28 knots, a GRSE official said.
The Navy had placed orders for seven stealth frigates, four of which are being developed by Mazagon Dock Ltd (MDL) and three by GRSE. Admiral Kumar said in his address that 88 per cent of Navy’s future contracts amounting to investments of nearly Rs 1,75,000 crore are being processed through Indian enterprises.