Vice Admiral Suthan's visit is taking place at a time when
New Delhi and Moscow are locked in financial wrangling over the
refit of Gorshkov which is far behind the delivery schedule.
Russians are demanding additional USD two billion for the
refitting and work on the carrier is almost at a standstill.
The Gorshkov cost escalation demand could include hidden
costs for the Nerpa nuclear submarines as the purchase of both
the systems was taken up as a package deal.
If the deals fall through, Russian Defence Ministry said,
it will induct both the vessels into its Navy under the force
modernisation programme till 2015 and foot the bill.
The failure of the Gorshkov deal and its larger package
including lease of two Akula-II nuclear attack submarines of
Project 'Shchuka B' would be a major setback to Indian Navy's
strategic plans to project its might in the blue waters and
putting in place the nuclear triad of 'credible deterrence'.
The Navy delegation was also on a fact-finding mission
following a recent mishap onboard a Nerpa submarine that
claimed 20 lives.
Although the Indian Embassy here is tight-lipped about
Suthan's Russia trip, the local media has reported about his
visit to Yantar Shipyards in Kaliningrad to inspect the ongoing
construction of three additional Project 11356 'Krivak IV'
class stealth frigate ordered by the Indian Navy under USD 1.6
Earlier, St Petersburg-based Baltiisky Zavod shipyard had
built three stealth frigates -- INS Talwar, INS Trishul and now
world famous for its successful anti-piracy mission in the Gulf
of Aden -- INS Tabar.
"During his visit yesterday Vice Adm. Raman Prem Suthan,
was satisfied with the pace and the quality of the construction
of the frigates. He expressed hope that the future work will be
carried out at the same high standard," Yantar Shipyard
spokesman Sergei Mikhailov was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.
According to him, beginning from next year the shipyard is
to complete the deliveries of the frigates by 2011-12.
Unlike the previous three stealth frigates built in St
Petersburg, each additional warship will be armed with eight
BrahMos supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles instead of the
The visit by the naval delegation came even as
shipbuilders blamed the inherent flaws in the Indian variant of
central control panel of the Nerpa submarine for the mishap.
They also said "serious work" was required to make its
fire-extinguishing system "foolproof".
"New modification of 'Molibden' central control panel is
under trial on board the Nerpa (submarine), for the Indian
variant. This is a 'raw' system, which even before had
malfunctioned," mechanical engineer of the Amur Shipyard Sergei
Stolnikov told popular youth daily 'Komsomolskaya Pravda'.
Gennady Bagin, Director of 'Vostok' plant, a unit of Amur
Shipyard, said "Molibden-I" (Indian variant), which is a
centralised control system of the entire vessel, requires
serious improvement, specially its fire-control system and
sensors need to be made "foolproof".
Moscow, Nov 25: A top-level Indian delegation led by
Vice Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral P R Suthan is here
to review ongoing naval projects, including trials and delivery
of Nerpa nuclear attack submarine to be leased to India next
year and the refit of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier.
First Published: Tuesday, November 25, 2008, 00:00