India’s growing underwater capability : Important Topics for UPSC Exams

India’s growing underwater capability


  • According to Spykman theory of rim land those who control the littorals can control the world. So for India to be a global power it needs to strengthen its capability in Indian Ocean Region.
  • This year Indian Navy is celebrating golden jubilee of its Submarine arms.

India's growing underwater Capability

  • Recently INS Kalvari, was handed over to the Indian Navy for its commissioning it would be a significant milestone in the navy's submarine-building programme.
  • Khanderi the second of the Scorpenes class submarine under construction, is undergoing rigorous phase of sea trials.
  • India operates a fleet of 16 submarines, including INS Kalvari, INS Chakra and INS Arihant.
  • INS Arihant was commissioned last year which completed India's nuclear triad or the ability to launch strategic weapons from land, air and sea.
  • The Navy is also building conventional boats in India through partnership programmes with foreign suppliers.
  • Navy has developed required skills to build warships suitable for tropical conditions which are export-worthy to other Indian Ocean littoral countries.
  • The Indian Navy is an instrument of maritime diplomacy. It involves goodwill visits by warships to foreign ports, naval exercises, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
  • Two deep submergence rescue vessel (DSRV) systems which is to be inducted next year are contracted from the British JFD and will fill a major capability gap before the Indian
  • Navy inducts the sophisticated nuclear submarines which are currently under construction.

Commissioned submarines (source- Wikipedia)

Why Strengthening of Navy's Capability is needed

  • Peace and stability: as the biggest nation in the Indian Ocean region, it becomes responsibility of India to ensure peace and stability in the Indian Ocean Region.
  • Chinese presence: the strengthening of Navy's capability is important due to increasing Chinese Navy ships and submarine deployments in the Indian Ocean Region every year.
  • Confront with china: the Indian and Chinese navies come into contact with each other either in the waters of the Indian Ocean or the South China Sea.
  • Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief: to increase efficiency in providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to littoral state and for own country also.

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Concerns/Challenges for Indian Navy

  • Delay in commissioning - for example commissioning of INS Kalvari into Indian Navy's fleet was after a delay of five years.
  • India's underwater fleet is way behind China which has far superior underwater capability and also China outnumbers India in Submarines and warships.
  • Also India’s submarines cannot live for long time underwater, they periodically need to come to surface which make them susceptible to enemy.
  • As far as Project-751 is concerned, little progress has been made in the past 10 years.
  • Indian Navy lack a dedicated deep submergence rescue vessel (DSRV) even as it enters its 51st year.
  • The long-delayed DSRV acquisition symbolizes India's systemic incompetence
  • Constraints related to recruitment significantly impact the modernization and acquisition process.

About INS Kalvari

  • The first of a six scorpene submarine, Kalvari, was handed over to the Indian Navy for its commissioning.
  • Kalvari is named after Tiger Shark a deadly deep sea predator of Indian Ocean.
  • Kalvari is built indigenously under Project 75, at Mumbai's Mazagon Docks in collaboration with DCNS which is a French firm.
  • It can dive up to a depth of 300 metres to elude enemy detection.
  • It has superior stealth and the ability to launch crippling attacks with precision-guided weapons.
  • The attack can be carried out underwater or from the surface.

Way forward

  • On the 50th anniversary of the Navy's submarine arm, it's a wake-up call on acquiring dedicated rescue vessel.
  • India have to focus on using our underwater capabilities in a more innovative manner to meet the desired political objectives.
  • India must have a robust and credible underwater capability with a judicious mix of conventional and nuclear-propelled submarines.
  • India needs to work hard to meet the target of building 24 submarines by the year 2030.
  • Capacity to remain underwater for a long time needs to be augmented.
  • Collaboration with countries having comparative advantage in building submarines.


Consider the following statements about INS Arihant

  1. It is nuclear powered submarines of India
  2. It is fitted with the India’s own K-15 ballistic missile that can be launched from under water.
  3. It has bought India into league of top 3 countries that possess nuclear powered submarines.

Which of the statement(s) is/are correct?

(a) Only 1 and 3
(b) Only 2 and 3
(c) Only 1 and 2
(d) Only 1, 2 and 3

Correct answer: c

Civil Services Mains Examination

India have to go a long way in modernizing its Navy to suits the present demand of the situation. Analyze the statement and also mention what are the challenges which Navy is currently facing in its way to modernization.

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