New Delhi: In a major development, the Indian Naval base, at Karwar, on the western sea coast of the country will be expanded under a US $ 2.2 Billion project that will allow berthing of 30 warships or submarines.Once completed, the project named ‘sea-bird’ is located in north Karnataka and some 120 kms south of Goa, will be the biggest Indian Naval base. The first phase has been completed and made operational since 2005 but the ambitious plan of having the second phase of base will be a multipurpose one has been stuck over environmental concerns for more than three years and despite a clearance from the cabinet committee of security (CCS).The base is the home of the 44,500 tonne sea-based aircraft carrier, the INS Vikramaditya. The environment ministry has brushed aside objection to the Karwar expansion. The objection were on account of coastal regulation zone which prohibits any sort of construction upto a certain distance away from the coast.
Union minister for environment and forests, Prakash Javadekar, while interacting with Women Journalists in New Delhi on June 9 said: “Project Seabird in Karwar is a very significant project...Mumbai is a target (of terrorists) as well...The project is of strategic importance. It was pending and we have sanctioned it”.
The project will be watched closely by the global strategic community. It envisages a Master Plan for creation of infrastructure and facilities for the basing of ships and submarines, with all associated operational/support facilities. Phase-I of Project Seabird has been completed and can house a limited number of ships.
By 2017-2018, Navy plans to base 30 major warships at Karwar. Besides the aircraft carrier, the under construction Scorpene submarines could be based there due to water depth available at Karwar.
In addition, a Naval Air Station will be established there for deploying fixed and rotary wing ship-based military aircraft. The Indian Navy has also planned for the third phase of Karwar’s expansion and that will take its capacity to berth 50 warships.
Here is the operational plan:
Naval Air Station (NAS) will be a full-fledged airfield that will allow day and night operations of short range maritime aircraft and Helicopters. It will allow precision approach landing and have 9 hangars.
Missile Technical Position (MTP) will be augmented to meet the requirements associated with the missile outfits of newer ships and submarines. This will include construction of Battery Shed and Special Vehicles garage.
Naval Armament Inspectorate (NAI) is required to be constructed in Phase -II, in close proximity of the existing NAD and MTP facilities and a Rocket Motor Static Firing Facility will be added. The NAI will also have a satellite unit located to cater for ship front support to a large number of modern weapon carrying platforms.
The Naval Armament Depot (NAD) will be upgraded by additional Construction of workshops for ammunition, missiles, mines, torpedoes.