Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Mazagon Docks on Course with Major Orders, Remains Future Ready

Kamal Shah

Mazagon Dock Limited’s Chairman and Managing Director, Vice Admiral Narayan Prasad (r) spoke with Indian Aerospace & Defence’s Editorial Director, Kamal Shah ahead of DefExpo 2022 about the shipyard’s indigenous milestones and plans to place the nation on the global shipbuilding industry map. 

V.Adm. Narayan Prasad (r), Chairman and Managing Director, Mazagon Docks Limited

Q. What products and production values could we expect from MDL over the next ten years?

Ans: MDL is committed to being the leading shipyard of the country engaged in building state-of-the-art warships and submarines conforming to international standards. Our mission is to deliver quality ships and submarines on time. We have built an entire range of platforms, from naval vessels to offshore platforms at Bombay High for ONGC. Mazagon Dock’s USP is building state-of-the-art destroyers, stealth frigates and conventional submarines.

For the next five-six years, we have our hands full with the order book of approximately INR 43,000 Crores. The order broadly comprises the construction of four Visakhapatnam Class Project 15B Guided Missile Destroyers (one out of four already delivered), four Nilgiri-Class Project 17A stealth frigates and six Project 75 Scorpene Submarine (four out of six already delivered) and Medium Refit and Life Certification of INS Shishumar. Our major goal in the coming years will be the timely delivery of these under-construction warships to the Indian Navy for their operational preparedness.

An order in the offing, for which MDL will be a strong contender, is for six Next-Generation Destroyers (NGD), which is pegged at INR. 50,000 Cr. Another order MDL will be vying for is six Project 75-I conventional submarines fitted with air-independent propulsion amounting to approximately INR 43,000 Cr. Since MDL is India’s only conventional submarine builder, we hope to bag this order with our modernised infrastructure facilities and spare capacity. Further, the Indian Navy has also accorded the Acceptance of Necessity (AON) to MDL for Medium Refit and Life Certification (MRLC-2) of INS Shankush. RFP for MRLC-2 is expected shortly from IN. 

In addition to the above, MDL has also submitted bids for 11 Next-Generation Offshore Patrol Vessels (NGOPV).

Q. How is the progress on Yard 11879 (Vagir) trials? How prepared is MDL for the upcoming project P75I, and how different would the required preparations for project P75I be compared to project P75? 

Ans: Presently, Yard 11879 (Vagir) is undergoing rigorous Sea trials, and the progress is very satisfactory. Whilst P75(I) submarines employ AIPs and LIB batteries, in terms of construction, there is not much of a difference between the P75 (I) and P75 Project except for a few advancements and design changes. However, in recent years, the infrastructure at the Shipyard has been modernised and upgraded to meet the technological advancements in naval construction.

Under the Mazdock Modernisation programme, MDL has augmented its Infrastructure facility specifically to cater for submarine construction viz. Submarine Section Assembly workshop (SSA), Cradle Assembly workshop (CAS), 300 T Goliath crane, Shore Integration Facility (SIF), Angre wet basin. A Submarine Launch Facility is also being created at Alcock Yard to facilitate launching of submarines directly independent of availability of deep dry dock to upgrade MDL infrastructure for future projects such as Project P75(I). 

Q. With the construction of Kalvari-Class nearing completion, what steps are being taken to preserve the skill sets and knowledge gained during the programme, more so in the light of the immense problems faced when the Shishumar programme was suspended and knowledge, capabilities and skills were apparently partially lost by MDL in submarine construction.

Ans: The human skill sets are unique and specialised, developed through training programs designed for the respective job areas and experience gained over the years on the job. Efforts have also been made to have effective utilisation and retention of the vital hard-acquired submarine construction skills of the operatives and gainfully employ them to the extent feasible on similar jobs of the shipbuilding division of MDL to preserve the skill sets and knowledge gained during the programme of construction of Kalvari-Class submarine.

INS Taragiri launch ceremony; Photo Courtesy MDL

Q. What are the plans for MDL to look at modular construction concepts of warships? What technologies need to be developed for this process?

Ans: As part of the Mazdock Modernisation, the state-of-the-art module shop with a retractable roof together with the Goliath Crane has enabled MDL to adopt the integrated concept of Modular Construction. The technology is being used for the construction of Nilgiri-Class frigates.

Besides, MDL has continuously thrived to implement next-generation technologies in order to improve the shipbuilding process. 

Prominent among these are Artificial Intelligence-assisted’ Automatic Defect Recognition’ in X-ray welding. X-Ray weld defect detection is a vital task in the shipbuilding industry, which requires trained experts to perform routine inspections. The use of AI-assisted Automatic Defect Recognition has reduced the time required by faster detection of defects in weld joints.

The use of Industry 4.0 technologies like Virtual and Augmented Reality and AI are very imperative for MDL. We can now provide access to 3D design models to production and inspection teams working on the actual vessel. Not just that, it enables them to see each inch of design details in a 1:1 scale by superimposing the model data on the physical ship. We are proud to announce that the complete technology has been developed indigenously as part of the honourable Prime Minister’s Aatmanirbhar Bharat and Digital India initiatives.

Aveva Net is a significant system for the enhancement of production activities on board; it is envisaged that the 3D CAD Model of the ship shall be made available on board ship, Production, Planning SQC and other departments. The Aveva Net system, which is empowered with intelligent search, can be accessed from MDL Intranet Portal. This will make the 3D CAD Model available along with other related information like drawings, sketches, installation, manuals, and inspection reports etc., attached to the model. This system bridges the gap between various departments and allows the proper synchronisation between the Departments, thereby reducing the time required for execution.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are other sophisticated methods used. Lineout inspections of the ships are carried out as a part of the preliminary inspection, which is a time taking process, as there are almost about 500 compartments in the Ship. MDL, in its VR Lab, facilitates this Line-out inspection by providing an immersive 3D environment of the actual compartment in a lucid way to our esteemed clients, thereby reducing the ample amount of time required.

In the future, MDL is also looking forward to implementing AI-based systems for ‘Predictive Failure Analysis’ for receiving early warnings in case of any anticipated failure in critical systems having higher failure rates due to continuous movements.

INS Surat launch ceremony; Photo Courtesy MDL

Q. With so much focus on defence exports, what are MDL plans to export or make ships for neighbouring countries?

Ans: MDL has been selected as the preferred production partner to undertake major ship construction activities for M/s SSK Zvezda Shipbuilding Complex, Russia. Zvezda Shipbuilding complex (SBC) is ambitious in the development of a shipbuilding cluster in Far East Russia, and the project will open up a large-scale export business opportunity for India and specifically to MDL in future as the envisaged quantum of work is really huge, spanning for years. MDL intends to take this business opportunity forward.

MDL has submitted proposals for Exports to various countries, viz. Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Philippines, Hungary, Sierra Leone, Chile, Cameroon, etc., for construction and delivery of OPVs, FPVs, FICs, Floating Docks, Flat Bottom Shallow Boats, FAC and Corvettes.

MDL is also participating in various Defence Exhibitions like DefExpo, Aero India etc, to market the products built by MDL to explore opportunities to increase exports. In addition, MDL is working on the diversification of products, which would enhance exports.

The Submarine Division has formed a dedicated section for business development and competitive bids to customers. MDL is also making all-out efforts to tie-up with various private companies to grab opportunities/orders from the international market. 

MDL is trying to penetrate other markets as well for export, and some of our offerings are submarine refit and repair, autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), electric and solar powered vehicles, air boat (fan boat), and heavy engineering works.

Q. What is the MDL’s total current capacity utilisation?

Ans: With its augmented infrastructure, the construction capacity of MDL has increased from six to 11 submarines with parallel construction lines and from eight to 10 Warships. Currently, MDL is building two conventional submarines (four already delivered) against the capacity of 11 and 7 warships against the capacity of 10.

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