INS Imphal, a Project 15B stealth guided missile destroyer, was commissioned into the Indian Navy in the presence of Raksha Mantri, Rajnath Singh at an impressive ceremony held at the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai on December 26, 2023. The event marks the formal induction of the third of four indigenous ‘Visakhapatnam’ class destroyers, being designed by the Indian Navy’s Warship Design Bureau and constructed by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDL), Mumbai.

Speaking on the occasion, the Raksha Mantri described INS Imphal as a shining example of ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence and a reflection of the commitment of Indian Navy, MDL & all other stakeholders towards national security. “INS Imphal is a symbol of India’s growing maritime power and it will strengthen it further. It will bolster our principle of ‘Jalmev Yasya, Balmev Tasya’ (One Who Controls the Sea is All Powerful) in the Indo-Pacific region,” he said.

The ship measures 163m in length, 17m in breadth with a displacement of 7,400 tonnes and is amongst the most potent warships built in India. It is propelled by four powerful Gas Turbines, in a Combined Gas & Gas configuration, and is capable of speeds in excess of 30 knots.

The Raksha Mantri defined INS IMPHAL as a conglomeration of different strengths of the nation. “Brahmos Aerospace installed Brahmos missile on the ship. Torpedo tube launchers are of Larsen & Toubro (L&T). Rapid Gun Mount has been installed by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), and Medium Range missiles by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL). In addition, many start-ups and MSMEs are involved in its construction. Just like many elements have given a concrete form to INS IMPHAL, people from all walks of life should work together for us to become ‘Viksit Bharat’. Every citizen is a carrier of India’s security and progress. Whenever one works, the betterment of the nation must be kept in mind,” he said.

Rajnath Singh reiterated the Government’s resolve to lay equal emphasis on the modernisation of all the three Services to safeguard national interests, stating that earlier governments focussed only on protecting the country from land-based threats. He pointed out that with the Himalayas in the north and the hostile behaviour of Pakistan in the west, most of India’s goods trade comes through sea, which makes it an island country from ‘trade’ perspective. He stressed on the need to continuously develop the Navy’s capabilities as global trade is of great importance to India to secure its national interests.

The Raksha Mantri also referred to the recent suspected drone attack on Merchant Vessel (MV) Chem Pluto in the Arabian Sea and the attack on ‘MV Sai Baba’ in the Red Sea. He stated that India’s growing economic and strategic power has filled some forces with jealousy and hatred. He added that the Government of India has taken the attacks very seriously and the Navy has increased its surveillance. He assured that the perpetrators of these attacks will soon be brought to justice and strict action will be taken against them.

“India plays the role of a Net Security Provider in the entire Indian Ocean Region. We will ensure that maritime trade in this region touches greater heights. For this, together with our friendly countries, we will keep the sea lanes secure. We have full confidence in the ability and strength of our Navy,” said Rajnath Singh.

In his address, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar stated that INS Imphal possesses the distinction of being a shining symbol of Indian Navy’s unflinching commitment towards achieving the vision of self-reliance in defence. He also termed it a testament to ‘Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat’ vision of the Government. He added that the ship will not only tackle physical threats that emanate from the seas, but will also demonstrate the strength of an integrated country. “INS Imphal will deter the various designs that try to harm national unity. It will breath fire upon the enemy and demonstrate unflinching resolve in the face of adversity,” he said.

The Chief of the Naval Staff exuded confidence that the fourth Project 15B stealth guided missile destroyer ‘Surat’ will be commissioned in 2024. Prior to the commissioning of INS Imphal, two destroyers of the same class INS Visakhapatnam and INS Mormugao were commissioned into the Navy in 2021 & 2022 respectively.

Admiral R Hari Kumar pointed out that to counter piracy & drone attacks on merchant shipping, the Indian Navy has deployed four destroyers of Project 15B & 15A class deployed. He added that the P8I Aircraft, Dorniers, Sea Guardians, Helicopters & Coast Guard Ships have all been deployed jointly to counter these threats.

The Chief of the Naval Staff added that the Navy aims to induct at least one Agniveer from each district, each block and each village of the country. “The strategy is to attract youth – both men and women – from every corner of the country, up-skill them when in Service, certify their abilities through education institutions, inculcate a spirit of nationalism and ensure that they re-join the civil sector as invaluable assets. The vision is to percolate such a nationalistic workforce across the length and breadth of the country,” he said.

INS Imphal has the unique distinction of being the first warship to be named after a city in the North-east, underscoring the importance and contribution of the region and Manipur to the Nation & the Indian Navy.Its keel was laid on May 19, 2017 and the ship was launched on April 20, 2019. The ship sailed for her maiden sea sortie on April 28, 2023, and underwent comprehensive trials in harbour & at sea, with its delivery on October 20, 2023 marking a record time frame of less than six months. The time taken to build INS Imphal and undergo trials has been the shortest for any indigenous destroyer. The ship successfully completed the first-ever test-firing of extended range Brahmos missile prior to its commissioning, making it ‘weapon-ready’.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command Vice Admiral Dinesh K Tripathi and Director (Finance) with Additional Charge of Chairman & Managing Director, MDL Sanjeev Singhal were among those who attended the commissioning ceremony.

The ship has a total complement of about 315 personnel, and is commanded by Captain KK Choudhury, a Gunnery and Missiles specialist. It will augment the Navy’s mobility, reach and flexibility in safeguarding the nation’s maritime security and interests.

INS Imphal has enhanced stealth features resulting in a reduced Radar Cross Section, achieved through efficient shaping of hull, full beam superstructure design, plated masts and use of radar transparent material on exposed decks. It is armed with sophisticated state-of-the-art weapons and sensors, including Surface-to-Surface Missiles, Surface-to-Air Missiles, Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) rocket launchers & Torpedo launchers, ASW helicopters, radars, sonar and Electronic Warfare systems. The ship is equipped to fight under Nuclear, Biological and Chemical warfare conditions.

A unique feature of this ship is the high level of indigenisation of about 75%, highlighting Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Government’s efforts towards ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’. The indigenous equipment/systems include Combat Management System, Rocket Launcher, Torpedo Launcher, Integrated Platform Management System, Automated Power Management System, Foldable Hangar Doors, Helo Traversing system, Close-in Weapon System, and the Bow-mounted SONAR.


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