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INS Shivalik India's first indigenous warship commissioned

Mumbai, April 29 (IANS) INS Shivalik, the first indigenous stealth frigate in the Indian Navy, was commissioned Thursday by Deffence Minister A.K. Antony at the naval dockyard here.

"It is a red letter day for the navy, armed forces and ship building industry of India. We can consider ourselves a really potent force," said the minister on the occasion.

He added that the "navy has to maintain eternal vigilance since we have a long coastline".

The frigate, built at Mumbai's Mazagaon Dock Ltd (MDL) as part of the Indian Navy's Project 17, is a 143-metre-long warship with 6,000-tonne displacement. It has numerous new design features to effectively reduce the probability of the warship being detected at sea.

The navy will get 10 more stealth warships in the next 10 years.

The in-built structural, thermal and acoustic stealth features augment the potent capability of the ship to address threats in all dimensions of maritime warfare.

Said MDL Chairman and Managing Director Vice Admiral (Retd) H.S. Malhi: "This ship is a testimony to the collaborative efforts of the MDL and the navy and in more ways than one, this project has raised the benchmarks in our indigenous warship design and shipbuilding efforts."

The warship is equipped with a mix of Indian, Russian, Israeli and Western weapons and sensors. A 250-member crew, including 35 officers, will man INS Shivalik.

It is equipped with state-of-the-art defence against nuclear, biological and chemical attacks.

It is also the first warship of the Indian Navy to provide for separate rooms for women crew.

"The ship has been constructed for considerable reduction in radar cross section signature and various measures have also been taken to suppress noise and vibration, infrared and magnetic signatures," said Malhi.

The other two frigates of this class are Satpura and Sahyadri. While the construction of INS Shivalik began in 2002, that of Satpura and Sahyadri started in 2004 and 2005 respectively.

The second of these ships is expected to be commissioned by the end of this year, and the other in 2011.

The follow-on of the Shivalik class would be Project 17 Alpha, under which a total of seven ships will be built.

The Indian Navy currently has a fleet of 130 warships, which includes an aircraft carrier, 20 landing ships, eight destroyers, 12 frigates and 16 attack submarines based in four commands, headquartered in Mumbai (Western Naval Command), Visakhapatnam (Eastern Naval Command), Kochi (Southern Naval Command) and Port Blair (Andaman and Nicobar Joint Command).

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