India to spend Rs 10,000 cr on Karwar naval base expansion


India is finally getting ready to spend around Rs 10,000 crore on the proposed major expansion of the strategic Karwar naval base in coastal Karnataka. Aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (the refurbished Admiral Gorshkov), Scorpene attack submarines and other frontline warships will be based there in the future.

This comes at a time when India is faced with the likelihood of Chinese warships using the Gwadar deep-sea port in Pakistan, which it helped build in the last decade, in the years ahead.

Apprehensions on this were reinforced recently when Pakistani defence minister Ahmed Mukhtar publicly declared that Islamabad had asked Beijing to build a naval base at Gwadar, which offers direct access to the Gulf region.

Though China was quick to deny it had any interest in establishing a naval base of its own at Gwadar, Beijing’s assiduous role in building ports in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka has only served to underline its “string of pearls” strategic construct in the Indian Ocean Region.

Pakistan already has five major naval bases and ports at Gwadar, Ormara, Karachi, Pasni and Jiwani, while Karwar is India’s third major naval base after Mumbai and Visakhapatnam on the east coast.

“After some delay, the defence ministry has now prepared a “note” for the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Phase-IIA of `Project Seabird’ at Karwar after fine-tuning a detailed project report (DPR),” said an official.

“The note is being vetted by finance and will soon go to CCS for the final approval. The Navy will be able to base 27 major warships at Karwar after completion of Phase-IIA, at a cost of around Rs 10,000 crore, by 2017-2018,” he added.

Project Seabird has been dogged by long delays, fund crunches and truncated clearances since it was first approved in 1985 at an initial cost of Rs 350 crore. Phase-I, completed at a cost of Rs 2,629 crore, has enabled the Navy to base 11 warships and 10 yardcraft at Karwar.

Under Phase-II, Karwar will get an airbase, armament depot, dockyard complex and missile silos, apart from additional jetties, berthing and anchorage facilities. The eventual aim is to base 50 major warships at Karwar after Phase-IIB is completed.

As reported by TOI earlier, Karwar will not only decongest the over-crowded Mumbai harbour, though the naval dockyard there will continue to house some warships, but also provide India with much-needed strategic depth and operational flexibility.

With Navy moving towards operating two carrier battle groups centered around the 44,570-tonne INS Vikramaditya and the 40,000-tonne indigenous aircraft carrier by 2015, the Karwar base is critical for its blue-water operations in Indian Ocean and beyond.

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Posted by pilotpaul on Jun 21 2011. Filed under All News, Navy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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