A steel Cutting ceremony was held at Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) on 10 April 2024 for the first Fleet Support Ship for the Indian Navy. The Defence Secretary, Flag Officer Commander in Chief, Eastern Naval Command, and other senior Indian Navy officials attended the ceremony at Visakhapatnam.

Steel cutting of the first FSS at HSL, Visakhapatnam (MoD photo)

The Ministry of Defence signed the contract with HSL on 25 August 2023 for five Fleet Support Ships (FSS) for the Indian Navy at an overall cost of approximately 19,000 crore INR (2.3 Billion USD). The delivery of ships to the Indian Navy is scheduled to commence in August 2027, followed by one ship every 12 months until the conclusion.

The ships will displace over 40,000 Tonnes, feature a minimum of five Transfer Points and will be able to achieve pumping rates of up to 2400 TPH (Tonnes Per Hour). The ships will be able to store and deliver fuel, water, ammunition and stores allowing long deployment far from shore to strategic locations, reducing dependency on harbour assistance. The ship will feature a gun-based CIWS and a hangar for rotary aircraft.

HSL had earlier partnered up with a Turkish firm Anadolu Shipyard for design collaboration and supply of key machinery equipment. The partnership fell through with no statement issued by either side. The design for FSS will be completely indigenous, undertaken by HSL’s in-house design bureau with sourcing of the majority of the equipment from indigenous manufacturers.

HSL initiated the advanced design phase for the ship in 2023, a ship speed of 20 knots was validated during hydrodynamic studies in the tow tank. The basic design approval to start construction was given in December 2023.

FSS hydrodynamic studies undertaken by HSL in Tow tank (HSL photo)

The FSS will be equipped for humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations. To fulfil its secondary role, it will be capable of carrying out evacuation of personnel in emergencies and quick delivery of relief material at the site during natural calamities.

The addition of five Fleet Support Ships will greatly enhance the Indian Navy’s long reach and help in its transition to a blue water navy. The Indian Navy will have five 43,000t FSS, two 27,500t Deepak and one 24,600t Aditya class replenishment tanker in its fleet to support the operation of two carriers and over forty surface combatants in the next decade.