Submarines: The operational competency of India

Are we ready for the major challenges in our seas? Is our Navy well equipped to carry out precision-led operations for deterrence? Precisely, do we have the best in class ‘Submarine’ operational capabilities?

Let’s take a quick review on these marine juggernauts and an insight as how important it is to have Submarine operational capabilities for Navy of a Nation like us? -Surround with seas on three sides.

The task they do

With the element of surprise being its greatest asset, the submarines are one of the lethal and highly precise tactical naval –warfare deployment of the modern era. Since the advent of first modern submarine Holland (1900) by US Navy these submerged ships has seen  tremendous changes & with every phase of development, while acquiring microwave radar, acoustic homing torpedo, mines, magnetic anomaly detectors (MAD), sonobuoys and shipboard HF/DF antennas, they have been growing more lethal. Also, their role has changed from traditionally being lonesome hunters to close-support to the Naval fleet to operate in conjunction with the warships, frigates and aircraft carriers during distinct operational requirements.

While being a submariner is a matter of something to take pride in, it is a challenging task for them to operate from this platform. Though these machines are technologically matchless and tactically efficient, there are occasions when situations seem to be out of control; there, if you see it clearly, you’ll find that it’s not about being pragmatic rather about sustainability in diverse situational offerings. Let alone the Navies who has acquired this capability recently, the legends have also faced and will face challenges at odd hours.

Sea is a domain of uncertainty; random oceanic activities, frequent human invasions & untoward Geo-environmental threats keep throwing the team on the shore of a new challenge and to a more difficult assignment every single time- every day. The operational strategies are bound to be changed with change in salinity, water pressure and temperature which simultaneously govern the acoustic wave propagation and decide the path and speed of sound waves in the ocean water. Here if you count the number of unplanned (read spontaneous) activities and the type and range of the tasks a submarine team takes up, you will fall short of numbers!

Their prime job is to guard the coastal line while hibernating under the sea far from the enemy eyes. They act as deterrence during first enemy attack and as attack centers at extreme hours. With the technological advancement we have pioneered their designs and roles, evolved their mechanism and competency and have improved their potential to an extent that now we have different range of these submarines which qualify to be classified among distinct operational classes; exhibiting state-of-the-art operational abilities such as advanced weapon & navigation systems, more dynamic architecture which allows them to dive more closer to sea-bed, longer life span and improvised power mechanism which enables them to generate their own electricity consequently allowing to stay submerged under  water for longer duration.

How do they achieve it?

Nevertheless  submarine operational capability of a nation includes the submarine platform (port), sensors, guided weapons, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR), electronic warfare, acoustic warfare & personnel to deploy the strategy and carry out such Precision –lead operations.

Well, having said that I would like to draw your attention to the fact that these requirements are as critical as our different organs for our body. If any of these fails to operate correctly the whole system crashes down leading to severe consequences as we have witnessed in Taj Hotel case in Mumbai in 2011.

Are we well equipped?

Now that we have an idea of the importance and role of a submarine, it brings us to a question-Is Indian Navy capable of exhibiting superior submarine operational competency? Well, you got it right! The answer is nearly yes. We shall see how we as a nation stand to gain from the upcoming opportunities of arsenal advancements in our naval fleet.

In next part we will examine the Operational competency of India in this context. 

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