GRSE launches third Mk IV LCU for Indian Navy

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GRSE launches third Mk IV LCU for Indian Navy

The launch of LCU L53 at the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers yard in Kolkata, India. Source: Indian Navy​
Key Points
  • The vessel will bolster the Indian Navy's amphibious capabilities
  • India's future landing craft capability may be deployed in regions where it can be used to offset the presence of other navies
India's state-owned company, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE), has launched the third of eight Landing Craft Utility (LCU) Mk IV vessels on order for the Indian Navy. The vessel, designated LCU L53, was launched on 16 January at the company's new Integrated Shipbuilding Facility (ISF), located at GRSE's main yard in Kolkata.

In 2011, GRSE signed an INR21 billion (USD340 million) contract with the Indian Navy to construct eight LCUs. The first two vessels entered the water on 12 March and 23 September 2014 respectively. According to a GRSE press release, commissioning of L53 is slated for the third quarter of 2015, following completion of outfitting and trials.

An Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) statement marking the launch of the third vessel said, "These ships will play a significant role in the transportation of main battle tanks, armoured vehicles, and troops of the Indian Army during amphibious operations."

The LCUs can also be deployed on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) and search-and-rescue (SAR) operations.

The MoD statement added that the LCUs will be armed with two indigenously produced CRN-91 Sarath 30 mm naval gun system turrets (with fire control from a BEL supplied electro-optical director) that can provide fire support ashore.

Alongside up to 160 armed troops embarked, vehicle lift capacity is one 65 ton tank like the Arjun or two 45 ton tanks like the T-72/80, or four 13.5 ton BMP Infantry Fighting Vehicles. SATCOM and the ELK 7036 communications intelligence (COMINT) system will be standard fit on these craft.

A social media posting from the MoD's Chief Public Relations Officer Tarun Kumar Singha in September 2014, announcing the second vessel's launch, described the LCUs as being 63 m long and 11 m wide, and displacing 830 tonnes.

Powered by two MTU 1,840 kW marine diesel engines with a twin fixed-pitch propeller propulsion system, the LCUs can attain a maximum speed of 15 kt and have an endurance of 1,500 n miles. The vessels can accommodate up to 216 personnel, including the 160 armed troops.

The Mk IV design has been developed in-house by GRSE to Indian Navy specifications. GRSE is constructing the LCUs in pairs. The keel laying of L53 and Yard No 2095 (to be named L54) took place on 13 August 2014 at the ISF using a new, inclined berth. The benefits offered by the ISF and its new berth were reflected in the higher levels of completion of L53 in comparison to L51, for example.

When the vessels begin entering service in 2015, they will replace the remaining LCU Mk 3 vessels in service.

The LCUs will likely be inducted into the tri-service command responsible for India's Andaman and Nicobar island territory. The Indian Navy is developing the chain of islands as an amphibious warfare hub, possibly to counterbalance China's growing military influence in the Indian Ocean Region. The craft may also operate in the Arabian Sea.

GRSE launches third Mk IV LCU for Indian Navy - IHS Jane's 360
 
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