Following the recent approval from the Defence Minister AK Antony, the expansion project of the Karwar Naval base at the cost of Rs.13,000 crore ($ 2.9 billion) in Karnataka is gaining momentum. The second phase of expansion of the Karwar Naval base aims to boost strategic and operational capability of the naval force in the western coast. As of the now, Phase-2A of the Karwar Naval Base expansion plan has been sent to CCS for the final nod.
Following the completion of the first phase of the expansion, the Karwar Naval Base is getting geared up to accommodate the refurbished Admiral Gorshkov (INS Vikramaditya) to be received from Russia and inducted in early 2013. Currently, the naval base can accommodate 11 major warships and 10 smaller ships. As per the current projection, the naval base will berth 32 major warships and submarines and various other ships like fast-interceptor craft after Phase-IIA is completed by 2018-19.
As per the Phase-2A plans, the idea is to make Karwar base have an armament depot, airbase, dockyard complex and missile silos. The naval base will also have additional jetties, berthing and anchorage facilities. Eventually, almost 50 frontline warships will be based at Karwar at the completion of the Phase-2B. The expansion of the naval base will turn Karwar into the largest Defence zone, not only in India, but also in Asia.
According to sources, the retrofitted INS Vikratmaditya was initially planned to be harboured at Mumbai but this was ruled out owing to the congestion there. With the Defence Ministry suggesting that INS Vikramaditya be harbored in Karwar, many vessels may get shifted from Karwar to accommodate the aircraft carrier.
Unlike Mumbai or Vizag base, Karwar is the only naval base in India exclusively available to Indian Navy. Considered as India’s third largest naval base, the Karwar Naval Base has also been considered the perfect place to initiate submarine operations due to its depth of water. The six Scorpene submarines, being built at Mazagon will also be kept at Karwar base.
Indian Navy’s quest for strategic superiority and improved maritime capabilities will be complemented by the acquisition of 44 warships, six Scorpene submarines, 95 Fast Interceptor Crafts and 106 smaller ships that have been ordered. In addition, another 45 warships will be inducted as per the maritime capability plan. These include six stealth submarines, seven stealth frigates, 16 coastal anti-submarine vessels, four massive landing platform docks and eight mine counter-measure vessels.