Editor-in- Chief’s Note
MDL remains our premier dockyard and has been involved in producing ocean going surface and sub-surface assets that are pivotal to the Navy attaining a blue water status. The interview was conducted post an extensive tour of MDL premises. The free and frank exchange with the CMD is indicative of the course being followed by the Indian Navy to ensure we as a nation attain the status of being a stabilising influence in the Indian Ocean region.
The dock has undertaken a massive modernisation programme to now claim to be in the leagues of the best shipyards, globally. Its focus ahead is on two major contracts for building stealth frigates and submarines.
Interview: Rear Admiral RK Shrawat (Retd), CMD, Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL)
Brig S K Chatterji (SKC): You are one of the biggest shipbuilders we have in this country; take us on a brief walk across MDL’s milestones during your tenure.
Rear Admiral RK Shrawat (RKS): Over the years, MDL has demonstrated outstanding commitment to build technologically complex and most advanced state of the art warships and submarines to the highest standards of quality. We are proud to have delivered 24 frontline warships to the Indian Navy. During the past four years of my tenure we have delivered one frigate and two destroyers; third destroyer is undergoing sea trials. Two Multi Purpose Support Vessels were exported; one to Bahamas and another to Mexico. First destroyer of the next series has been launched and keel has been laid for the second. First submarine of Project 75 is undergoing sea trails and the second has been undocked.
MoU Ratings were excellent, three years in a row. The Value of Production has crossed the 4K mark and achieved a record VOP of Rs.4009 Crore for the year 2016-17; a cumulative increase of 40% during the last two years.
SKC: Which are the major projects that your yard is into now?
RKS: Currently, MDL is working on two warship building projects P-15A and P-15B and one submarine project P-75. P-15A will be completed this year. Production of P-17A stealth frigates will commence next year.
SKC: Will you be able to meet your deadlines in terms of timely deliveries?
RKS: There are many stakeholders who contribute in warship building. If all inputs for shipbuilding are available in time, ship production also falls in place in time. We have cleared our backlog of orders and now committed to deliver frigates in 5½ years.
SKC: What about the area of exports. How has it been so far and what orders do you have at this point in time?
RKS: Two Multi Purpose Support Vessels (MSVs) were built. MSV-I was exported to Mexico in 2012. MSV-II was exported to Bahamas in 2014. Several types of commercial ships have also been exported in the past. However, currently we are focusing only on timely delivery of naval platforms.
SKC: What are your expansion plans both in terms of requirements of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard and also shipping assets for our merchant navy?
RKS: MDL is a defence PSU therefore our top priority remains construction of weapon intensive naval platforms. To meet the future requirements we have upgraded our infrastructure under Mazdock Modernization Project. The modernisation project is now complete and fully operational. The idea of modernisation is to enable us to undertake shipbuilding in a manner it is done the world over, which is called Integrated Modular Construction of ships.
Further, a new Submarine Section Assembly (SSA) workshop is being built and the same is nearing completion. With this new workshop, MDL will possess two parallel assembly lines for construction of submarines.
SKC: What is the system you have in place for supporting MSMEs and indigenisation? How do you nurture them, ensure quality deliverables, and what stage do you incorporate them in your projects?
RKS: I have personally seen to it that MSMEs get a fair share of business from us. In fact, I have gone that extra mile to accommodate MSMEs in several cases. A number of commercially-off- the-shelf (COTS) items that are
required for warships and submarines are sourced from MSMEs. In addition, a large number of service contracts are also assigned to MSMEs. We have a clearly laid down policy for procurement from MSMEs in keeping with the extant Government guidelines.
In order to promote indigenisation, our purchase manual has been amended to incorporate a chapter on indigenisation. The amendment gives preferential treatment for indigenisation. As a result, 75% indigenisation of P17A has been planned.
To set an example of our commitment towards indigenisation, development of sonar-dome as ‘technology demonstration’ project was upgraded into a full fledged fitment for P15A, even when import option was open.
SKC: MDL has achieved a significant growth in its turnover in the past three years. What are the new systems in place? What steps did you take to improve productivity? What are the other measures being put in place to continue with the run?
RKS: MDL has composite outsourcing in place. Virtual Reality Lab has considerably improved design for production. MDL took lead in benchmarking study in warship building. Implementation of recommendations of the study is progress at MDL.
For further accelerating the growth and performance of MDL, Project 17A frigates will be constructed using Integrated Modular Construction Methodology used by developed nations. Development methodology for lifting mega-blocks has been completed in-house. Moreover, modern productivity enhancing equipment are being put in place.
In addition, a new Submarine Section Assembly (SSA) workshop is nearing completion. With this new workshop, MDL could take on construction work for five more submarines.
SKC: Your opinion about the new DPP 2016 and the not yet declared Strategic Partnership model?
RKS: In current scenario it will not be wrong to call Indian Navy as a Maker’s Navy. MDL along with other DPSUs have and are playing a major role in achieving this transformation. Navy’s requirement for naval platforms to safeguard the geo-strategic interest of the nation is huge and public – private participation could definitely enhance the production activities in order to meet the same.