State-owned shipbuilding company Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) has signed a contract worth around ₹19,000 crore with the Ministry of Defence for supply of five fleet support ships (FSS) to the Indian Navy, according to an official statement.

The Ministry of Defence on Friday says it has signed a contract with HSL, Visakhapatnam for acquisition of five FSS for the Indian Navy at an overall cost of around ₹19,000 crore. The Cabinet Committee on Security approved the acquisition of these ships during its meeting on August 16, 2023.

The ministry says the deal will be a major boost towards achieving the goal of self-reliance in the defence manufacturing as these ships will be indigenously designed and constructed by HSL, Visakhapatnam.

As per the release, the FSS will be employed for replenishing ships at sea with fuel, water, ammunition and stores, enabling the Indian Naval Fleet to operate for prolonged periods without returning to harbour. These ships would enhance the strategic reach and mobility of the Fleet.

“The induction of these ships will significantly enhance the blue water capability of the Indian Navy. The ships can also be deployed for evacuation of people and human assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations,” the release notes.

The ministry says the fleet support ships of 44,000 tons will be the first of its kind to be built in India by an Indian Shipyard. This project will generate employment of nearly 1.69 crore mandays over a period of eight years. The construction of these ships will provide a new dimension to the Indian shipbuilding Industry and encourage active participation of associated industries, including MSMEs.

With the majority of the equipment and systems being sourced from indigenous manufacturers, these vessels will be a proud flag bearer of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ in consonance with the ‘Make in India’ initiatives of the government, the defence ministry says.

The development comes a day after the defence ministry approved capital acquisition proposals worth around ₹7,800 crore for all three armed forces. To enhance the efficiency of the Indian Navy, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for procurement of weapons on the MH-60R Helicopters to enhance the operational capability of the helicopters.

In March 2023, the Ministry of Defence had signed contracts with Indian shipyards for the acquisition of 11 next-generation offshore patrol vessels and six next-generation missile vessels at an overall cost of ₹19,600 crore. Of the 11 ships, seven will be indigenously designed, developed, and manufactured by GSL and four by GRSE. The delivery of the ships is scheduled to commence in September 2026.

The ministry had also inked a contract to acquire six next generation missile vessels with Cochin Shipyard Ltd for ₹9,805 crore. The delivery of ships is scheduled to commence from March 2027. Additionally, the government also inked a contract with BrahMos Aerospace Private Ltd for procurement of next-generation maritime mobile coastal batteries and BrahMos missiles at a cost of ₹1,700 crore.

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