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SOURCE: PIB

INS Sandhayak (Yard 3025), the first Survey Vessel Large (SVL) ship, was commissioned into the Indian Navy in the presence of Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh at an impressive ceremony held at the Naval Dockyard, Visakhapatnam on February 03, 2024. The primary role of the ship is to carry out full scale hydrographic surveys of ports, harbours, navigational channels/routes, coastal areas and deep seas, towards enabling safe marine navigation. In its secondary role, the ship will be capable of undertaking a range of naval operations.

The Raksha Mantri, in his address, termed the commissioning as historic, exuding confidence that INS Sandhayak will further strengthen India’s role as a superpower in the Indo-Pacific region and help the Indian Navy in maintaining peace & security. He explained the security aspect of a country by drawing parallels with the development of a human being. “From being dependent on the family in the formative years, a child gradually becomes independent before he/she starts to spread knowledge in the society. Similarly, a country, in the initial stage of its development, depends on other countries for security, before it starts developing the capability to protect itself. Then comes the third stage when it becomes so powerful that it not only safeguards its own interests, but also becomes capable of protecting its friendly nations,” he said.

The Raksha Mantri expressed hope that INS Sandhayak will go a long way in obtaining information about the oceans and achieve the twin objective of protecting the country as well as others. “The ocean is vast and bottomless. The more we are able to explore its elements, the more our knowledge will expand, and we will become stronger. The more we gather information about the ocean, its ecology, its flora and fauna, the closer we will get to achieving our objectives. The more we know about the ocean, the more meaningfully we will be able to fulfil our strategic interests,” he said.

Shri Rajnath Singh pointed out that post-Independence, despite facing challenges on many fronts, India continued to move forward for its security and protected itself from threats. Today, the country is marching ahead on the path of development, with the more-than-ever strong Navy providing security in the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific region as the first responder, he said.

 The Raksha Mantri termed the Indian Ocean as a hotspot for global trade. “Many choke points like Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Guinea etc. are present in the Indian Ocean, through which a large amount of international trade takes place. Many threats remain at these choke points, the biggest being from pirates,” he said, referring to the hijack attempts on Merchant Vessels in the Arabian Sea and the Indian Navy’s courage and promptness to rescue the ships from the pirates.

Shri Rajnath Singh assured that those involved in maritime piracy and smuggling will not be tolerated under any circumstances, describing it as the pledge of ‘New India’. During the commissioning of INS Imphal recently, the Raksha Mantri had said that India will find those involved in nefarious activities from the depth of the oceans and take strict action against them.

At the commissioning ceremony of INS Sandhayak, the Raksha Mantri lauded the Indian Navy for providing security not only to the Indian ships, but also those from friendly countries. He referred to the recent drone attack on a British ship in the Gulf of Aden which resulted in the oil tankers catching fire. He commended the Indian Navy for its prompt response in extinguishing the fire, stating that the effort was recognised and appreciated by the world.

Shri Rajnath Singh praised the Indian Navy for averting five piracy attempts and assisting ships attacked by drones and missiles in the last few days, in addition to rescuing 80 fishermen/marines. “The Indian Navy in the Indian Ocean region is facilitating safe trade, while ensuring peace and prosperity. Many defence experts are calling this the rise of a superpower. This is our culture – to protect everyone,” he said.

The Raksha Mantri emphasised that with increasing power, India is determined to eradicate anarchy not only from the region, but from the entire world. He iterated India’s stand of maintaining freedom of navigation, trade and commerce among different countries. “The purpose of our growing power is to ensure a rules-based world order. Our aim is to stop illegal and unregulated fishing in the Indian Ocean and Indo-Pacific region. The Navy is stopping narcotics and human trafficking in this region. It is not only committed to stopping piracy, but also making this entire region peaceful and prosperous. INS Sandhayak will play a crucial role in achieving our objective. The intention with which the Government is strengthening the Navy will realise our destiny of becoming the promoters of world peace,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R Hari Kumar stated that the SVL project highlights the growing importance attached by the government and the Navy to the quintessential prerequisite to operating at sea – survey of the unfathomable depths of the oceans. He added that in order to leverage the flexibility to undertake a diverse range of roles and tasks, the Navy has been launching state-of-the-art platforms indigenously. “Be it the mighty aircraft carrier Vikrant, the deadly destroyers of Visakhapatnam Class, the versatile Nilgiri class Frigates, the stealthy Kalvari class submarines, the nimble Shallow Water ASW Craft or the specialised Diving Support Vessels – we are carefully crafting a balanced ‘Aatmanirbhar’ force in service of an ascendant Bharat,” he said.

Admiral R Hari Kumar asserted that 64 out of 66 ships and submarines under order are being built in Indian shipyards. This means that the Navy will invest thousands of crores in this sector, enhancing capacity of the shipyards, and capabilities of the workers as well as those employed in ancillary industries, he emphasised.

On the Raksha Mantri’s assurance that strict action will be taken against those who disturb peace in the Indian Ocean, the Chief of the Naval Staff said: “Not only India but the entire world has seen the effect of Shri Rajnath Singh’s instructions in the last four-five weeks. The Indian Navy will not stop until the Indian Ocean becomes completely open, safe and free. We are ready!”.

The commissioning ceremony marked the formal induction of the first of the four ships of the SVL Project under construction at Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE), Kolkata. The project has been steered by the Warship Design Bureau of the Indian Navy.

The keel was laid on March 12, 2019 and the ship was launched on December 05, 2021. It has undergone a comprehensive schedule of trials in harbour and at sea, leading up to commissioning. The ship has a displacement of 3,400 tons and an overall length of 110 meters with a beam of 16m.

INS Sandhayak is equipped with state-of-the-art hydrographic equipment including Deep & Shallow Water Multi-Beam Echo-Sounders, Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, Remotely Operated Vehicle, Side scan sonars, Data Acquisition and Processing System, satellite-based positioning systems and terrestrial survey equipment. The ship is propelled by two Diesel Engines and is capable of achieving speeds in excess of 18 knots. It has an indigenous content of over 80% by cost and is a tribute to the collaborative efforts between the Indian Navy and Industry, including MSMEs. Its induction underscores the growing maritime interests and capabilities of the nation.

 ‘Sandhayak’ means the one who carries out a special search. The crest depicts the sixteen points of a mariner’s compass, enclosing a ‘divider’ and an ‘anchor’ riding the sea, symbolising the charting of oceans, which is the basic role of the survey ship. The commissioning is an affirmation of India’s expertise in warship designing and construction.