|Madhu S Nair, Chairman, Cochin Shipyard Ltd.|
2022 is already a great year for Cochin Shipyard Ltd, as it completes 50 years of its glorious existence in service of the nation. Apart from the high visibility this provides, CSL has several achievements boosting its performance including the upcoming delivery of INS Vikrant, recent deliveries of the 500-pax luxury vessels Sindhu and Nalanda, and two electric autonomous barges for a Norwegian client. Its stabilizing fundamental performance, its entry into hydrogen fuelled electric vessels, and its plans to invest in maritime startups are further positives. Under CMD Madhu Nair’s able leadership, the PSU major is also ready to utilize any opportunities arising from the crisis in neighbouring Sri Lanka.
Logistics is the most carbon emitting operation for most businesses, especially for supermarket chains. So, can you imagine any supermarket chain that dreams of achieving zero carbon emission for its logistics service by as near as 2026? Yes, you guessed right, it can’t be in India or any other developing nations for that matter.
Such a supermarket chain exists and it is Norway’s leading retail chain NorgesGruppen. Its logistics subsidiary ASKO Maritime, which prides itself as the prime player putting food on millions of Norwegian food plates each day was tasked with this seemingly impossible objective to turn zero carbon within a few years.
And whom did ASKO Maritime trust with this task? A shipbuilder around 7000 kms away from Norway. Yes, it was Cochin Shipyard in India’s southeastern coast that was selected to build the two electric barges zero emission operations. Besides being electric, they were also to be designed as autonomous vessels.
Don’t be misled by the word barges though. The barges ‘Maris’ and ‘Teresa’ are each 600 tonne affairs, 67 metres in length, and can carry 16 fully loaded trailers in one trip! After reaching Norway and commissioning of the autonomous equipment and field trials, these vessels will operate as fully autonomous ferries.
Even the transportation of Maris and Teresa to Norway was an epic affair, speaking volumes about the kind of globally competitive and comprehensive work Cochin Shipyard is capable of. It obviously required something called a yacht transport carrier.
It took an eight hour effort to place Maris & Teresa on board the 210-metre-long mother vessel owned by a Dutch firm. For this, the mother vessel was first lowered 8.90 metres into the backwaters and its deck filled with water, following which tugs were used to pull the barges on board. This was followed by the raising of the mother vessel and the start of sail. The barges are expected to reach Norway in a month.
When it comes to building world-class passenger vessels of medium size as is the trend now, Cochin Shipyard has been displaying amazing capabilities. Recently this leading PSU shipyard in India delivered such a 500-pax vessel that is a beauty to behold. Built according to an international design by Knud E Hansen of Denmark, renowned naval architects, the vessel is equipped with a modern cafeteria, recreation rooms, gymnasium, library and other luxury amenities.
Built for the Andaman and Nicobar Administration, this vessel ‘Nalanda’ also features deluxe cabins, first class cabins, second class cabins, bunk class and seating class that can accommodate 500 passengers altogether. It is the second vessel of the class built and delivered by the shipyard, with the lead vessel of this series ‘Sindhu’ being delivered in March this year. Cochin Shipyard, which is a leader in ship maintenance and repair, will also provide full life cycle support for the vessels’ efficient operation.
Both these ships are also built to the highest standards of the Indian Register of Shipping and the American Bureau of Shipping, thereby meeting the Indian Merchant Shipping rules and are also customised for Indian requirements with a high level of safety comparable to international standards. Nalanda will be managed by a crew of 61, and both the ships are designed to cruise at 6 knots.
The detailed production engineering design was carried out by Cochin Shipyard itself, and the vessel is noted for its versatility. For instance, Nalanda will operate mainly between the groups of islands of Andaman and Nicobar but can also sail to mainland India, if needed. The vessel is also capable of carrying cargo of up to 150 MTs to the remote islands.
But in many ways, such smaller ships are easy projects for Cochin Shipyard where the country's first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is being built, and now nearing its launch. INS Vikrant has been designed and constructed by the Indian Navy and Cochin Shipyard Ltd.
With more than 76 percent indigenous content, INS Vikrant has led to the growth in indigenous design and construction capabilities, besides the development of a large number of ancillary industries, with employment opportunities for over 2,000 CSL personnel directly and for about 12,000 employees in ancillary industries.
During the fourth phase of sea trials of INS Vikrant recently, integrated trials of a majority of equipment and systems onboard the carrier including some of the aviation facilities and complex equipment were undertaken.
Maiden sea trials of INS Vikrant were successfully completed in August 2021, followed by the second and the third phases of sea trials in October 2021 and January 2022, respectively. During these trials, endurance testing of propulsion machinery, electrical and electronic suites, deck machinery, life saving appliances, ship’s navigation and communication systems were undertaken.
INS Vikrant is likely to be delivered by Cochin Shipyard to the Indian Navy by July end, followed by commissioning of the carrier in August to commemorate Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. When it is delivered and commissioned, Cochin Shipyard will attract international eyeballs.