New Delhi: Aiming at adding more teeth to
its amphibious warfare capabilities, the Navy is planning to
build four Landing Platform Docks (LPD) to join the fleet
alongside INS Jalashwa, a US warship bought by India in 2007.
The Navy is already in the process of getting the design
for the LPDs ready in the next year or two and will move the
government for sanction to build these warships.
"The plan is to add four more LPDs to the fleet and these
would operate alongside INS Jalashwa, the only LPD currently
in service," a senior Navy officer said here on Sunday.
"In the coming year or two, we are going to finalise the
design for the LPD, which is somewhat akin to INS Jalashwa.
The government sanction for building these ships would be
obtained next," he said.
INS Jalashwa -- a Sanskrit name for Hippopotamus -- is a
replenishment and amphibious warfare ship with capacity to
embark, transport and land a 1,000-men battalion along with
equipment and tanks to support operations on enemy shores.
Being the second largest ship in the Navy inventory after
aircraft carrier INS Viraat, Jalashwa is also capable of
undertaking maritime surveillance, special operations, search
and rescue, medical support as well as humanitarian aid.
Jalashwa was originally commissioned in the US Navy as
USS Trenton and had served for 36 years when India bought it
for USD 48.44 million and commissioned it in its Navy in June
After a refit programme at Norfolk, US, Jalashwa joined
the Indian Navy service late in 2007 and is based under the
Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam.
Jalashwa became the first ship the US transferred to
India. It is also the first LPD in the Indian Navy service.
"The need for such a landing transport amphibious warship
was felt in December 2004 when Tsunami waves hit Indian coast
including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Southeast Asia,"
the officer said.
India had rushed its warships with medical aid and food
to the countries hit by tsunami, but an LPD, which could be
converted into a multi-bed hospital, would have made a
difference, they said.
"But more than that, LPDs provide the Navy strategic
reach to operate far away from Indian shores and support
amphibious warfare," they added.
Jalashwa also carries four mechanised landing craft and
eight landing assault craft, which could be launched by
flooding the ship`s well deck, a speciality of LPDs. These
craft could reach enemy shores and dock to deliver infantry
and mechanised troops, tanks and equipment.
It also has a flight deck for operating four medium
helicopters simultaneously, apart from operating Vertical
Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft such as Sea Harriers,
which the Navy possesses, in special circumstances.
Last February, Jalashwa had a gas leak on board in which
five Navy personnel died and three were critically injured.