The Indian Navy commissioned its newest domestically constructed stealth-guided missile destroyer, INS Imphal, at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai on Tuesday. The commissioning ceremony was attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde. INS Imphal will be a stringent response to China’s enhancing maritime capabilities growing in the Indian Ocean.
The formal induction ceremony signifies the entry of the third ‘Visakhapatnam’ class destroyer into the Navy. These destroyers, designed and constructed by the Indian Navy’s in-house organisation, the Warship Design Bureau, demonstrate the nation’s indigenous capabilities.
INS Imphal holds the distinction of being the first warship named after a city in the Northeastern region, a decision sanctioned by the President in April 2019. This underscores the strategic significance of the Northeastern region for national security.
Speaking at the event, Navy Chief Admiral R Hari Kumar said, “INS Imphal will not only tackle physical threats that emanate at or from the seas, but more importantly, through the demonstrated strength of an integrated Bharat, she will deter nefarious designs, trying to subvert our national unity. Even as we speak, we have four destroyers of 15 Alpha and Bravo class deployed to counter piracy and drone attacks on merchant shipping.”
Constructed by Mazgaon Dock Limited, INS Imphal exhibits a remarkable indigenous content of around 75 per cent, featuring BrahMos surface-to-surface missiles, medium-range surface-to-air missiles, indigenous anti-submarine rocket launchers, and a 76mm super rapid gun mount.
Part of Project 15B (Visakhapatnam class), INS Imphal, with a length of 163 meters and 7,400 tons displacement, stands as a formidable naval presence. The ship is well-equipped with advanced weapons, sensors, and surveillance radar, making it one of India’s most potent warships.
Designed for combat under Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) warfare conditions, INS Imphal exhibits high automation, stealth features, and survivability. Powered by Combined Gas and Gas (COGAG) propulsion, the ship can attain speeds exceeding 30 knots (56 km/hour).
Delivered to the Indian Navy on October 20, INS Imphal completed a rigorous trial program, including the successful test-firing of the extended-range supersonic BrahMos missile.
More about Project 15B; bigger picture of INS Imphal
Between 2014 and 2016, the Indian Navy commissioned three guided missile destroyers of Kolkata class under a project codenamed ‘15A’. The Kolkata class included INS Kolkata, INS Kochi and INS Chennai These ships were a step ahead of their precursor Delhi class of ships, which included INS Delhi, INS Mysore and INS Mumbai, built under Project 15 and commissioned between 1997 and 2001.
Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDSL), one of India’s key Defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), has built all these ships. A ship class signifies a group of ships built with similar tonnage, usage, capabilities and weaponry.
For building the advanced variants of the Kolkata class guided missile destroyers, a contract for construction under the project codenamed ‘15B’ was signed in January 2011. The lead ship of Project 15B, INS Visakhapatnam (Pennant No D66), was commissioned into the Indian Navy in November 2021 and the second ship INS Mormugao (D67) in December 2022. The fourth ship, D69, which when commissioned will be christened INS Surat, was launched in May last year.
Designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house warship design entity Warship Design Bureau, and built by MDSL in Mumbai, the four ships of Project 15B are christened after major cities from all four corners of the country — Visakhapatnam, Mormugao, Imphal and Surat. The class is identified by its lead ship, in this case INS Visakhapatnam.
Strategic Significance of Visakhapatnam class (INS Imphal) ships
Technically, destroyers are a category of warships that have high speed, manoeuvrability and longer endurance. They are designed to be part of naval formations like a fleet or a carrier battle group also known as carrier strike group.
The modern destroyers that are swift, sleek and difficult to detect, primarily protect the fleets and carrier battle groups from the short-range attackers from surface, air and sub-surface. The guided-missile destroyers are the destroyers that are armed with guided missiles for anti-aircraft warfare, anti-surface operations and anti-submarine warfare.
Because of the speed, manoeuvrability and striking capability, the guided missile destroyers are a key asset in various types of naval operations, mainly offensive. Being a follow-on of the Kolkata class, the Visakhapatnam class incorporates not just the feedback and suggestions from the Navy but also several new features.
The state-of-the-art stealth feature makes Visakhapatnam class have the radar signature of a very small ship. A very high indigenous component gives this platform a strategic edge.
Visakhapatnam class is arguably one of the most advanced classes of ships in the Indian Navy. It can operate as an independent offence platform even when not part of a large formation.
With all its modern sensors and communication facilities, the class is a key asset in network-centric warfare, which denotes the use of information technology and computer networking tools to form networks of various force elements in play in a conflict scenario.
INS Imphal is a testament of India’s growing self reliance
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 26 said that the commissioning of INS Imphal, an indigenously built stealth-guided missile destroyer, into the Indian Navy is a testament to India’s growing self reliance in defence.
In a post on X, PM Modi lauded the people involved in the commissioning of the INS Imphal and said that it epitomises the country’s naval excellence and engineering prowess.
INS Imphal an encomium to the city of Imphal
The Ministry of Defence highlighted the importance of north-eastern states in the nation’s history. The statement mentioned the incidents of Anglo-Manipur Wars and Netaji Bose hoisting the flag on 14th April 1944. The statement also brought to light the fight between English and Japanese Armies on Burma which comprised of Indians on both sides and indirectly shaped the future of the World War II.
Thus, the commissioning of INS Imphal highlights the importance and contribution of the city of Imphal, the state of Manipur and the greater North Eastern region to national security, sovereignty and prosperity.