The Eastern Naval Command was formed on March 1st, 1968. This naval command is based in Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh and is currently headed by a three-star flag officer with the rank of Vice-Admiral. His official title is ‘Flag officer Commanding-in-chief Eastern command’ (FOC-in-C). Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain, AVSM, VSM is currently the commanding-in-chief officer of the western naval command which he took over in June 2019.
The main roles of Eastern naval command are
- Protection of coastal areas of Odisha, Andra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu
- Protecting the coastal and island territories
- Safe guarding the eastern side of the sea from low level maritime threats.
- Protecting the Indian trade (maritime) in international waters.
- Performing humanitarian assistance and disaster management roles.
We will now go through the state-of-the-art capital ships and other weapon systems Eastern command possesses.
Note: Some vessel class also have units both in the Eastern and Western Command. If they have been addressed in the earlier section, they would not be repeated here again.
INS Vikrant [Project 71]
INS Vikrant, the future flagship carrier of Eastern Command (replacing the INS Jalashwa in that role) is an indigenous aircraft carrier built in Kochi, Kerala under ‘Project 71 IAC-1 Program’. This indigenous carrier has a displacement of 40,000 tons. The motto of the carrier is “Jayema Sam Yudhi Sprdhah, which means, I defeat those who fight against me”.
The armament of this flagship carrier includes 4 x Otobreda 76mm, 4 x AK-630 CIWS, Barak 1 and Barak 8 (2 x 32 cell VLS). It can also carry a maximum of 30 – 40 aircrafts of which 26 are the Mig-29’K’ multi-role fighters or the future N-MRCA (either the F18 Super hornet or Rafale-M) and 10 x Utility helicopters (Kamov Ka-31 AWE&C, Westland Sea king ASW helicopters, MH-60R or Naval Dhruv). Vikrant is a STOBAR carrier capable of operating both aircrafts and helicopters.
Project 15B Vishakhapatnam Class Destroyers [Designation: D66, D67, D68, D69]
Eastern naval command will have 4 x Vishakhapatnam Class Destroyers. They are a class of stealth guided-missile destroyers (improved variants of the Kolkata Class Destroyers) which were constructed by Mazagon Docks Ltd. These destroyers have a displacement of 7400 tons and have a maximum speed of 30 knots.
Armament of these destroyers are similar to the Kolkata Class and they include; 32 x Barak-8 missiles, 16 x BrahMos missiles, 1 x 76mm Oto Melara gun, 4 x AK-630 CIWS, 4 x 533 mm torpedo tubes and 2 x RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launchers along with 2 x Dhruv or Sea king helicopters. Some differences they will have over their predecessor (Kolkata Class) are that they will have a larger 127mm main gun, sonar relocation from the hull to the bow, revised bridge layout and mast design to reduce radar cross section as well as a network centric layout to enhance sensor integration to the ship.
Rajput Class Destroyers [Designation: D51, D52, D54, D55]
Rajput Class guided-missile destroyers precede the Delhi class destroyers and are modified versions of the soviet Kashin Class destroyers and eastern naval command has four of these destroyers, with one of them being retired (INS Ranjit). These vessels were extensively modified to Indian specifications and then build in a Soviet Union shipyard (61 Kommunara Shipbuilding Plant). These destroyers have a displacement of 3,950 tons and have a top speed of 35 knots.
Armament of these class of destroyers have been extensively changed. INS Rajput’s armaments include; 4 x Brahmos SSM, 2 x Styx AShM, 1 x Dhanush BM. INS Rana and Ranjit’s armaments include; 4 x Styx AShM. INS Ranvir and Ranvijay’s armaments include; 8 x Brahmos (Aft-VLS), 4 x Styx AShM. INS Rana and INS Rajput uses 2 x S125-M SAM launchers and 4 x AK-230 CIWS for air defence while INS Ranvir and Ranvijay uses 1 x S125-M SAM launchers, 2 x Barak-1 (8 Cell) launchers and 2 x AK630M CIWS for air defence.
Project 17 Shivalik Class Frigates [Designation: F47, F48, F49]
Shivalik Class frigates are a class of multi-role stealth frigates which were designed and built in India by Mazagon Dock Ltd. These were the first stealth frigates built in India and a much larger in displacement than the Talwar Class frigates. These are the principal frigates of the Indian Navy (together with the upcoming P17A frigates). As compared to the 3850T displacement Talwar, the Shivalik is much larger with a displacement 6200T. Only three of these frigates were made as they were considered as an experimental warship for many stealth naval technologies that would eventually been incorporated fleet wide (Kamorta, Kolkata, Vishakhapatnam, Nilgiri).
Armament of these class of frigates are unusual for an Indian warship (these days). It is a mix of the old gen naval weapons and the new gen naval weapons. The Shivalik class frigates’ armaments include; 8 x Brahmos AShM or 8 x Klub AShM. Shivalik also has 2 x AK-630 CIWS for close air defence, 32-cell x Barak 1 launchers as well as 24-cell Shtil-1 medium range.
Project 17A Nilgiri Class Frigates [Under Construction]
Nilgiri Class is an enhanced variant of the Shivalik Class that is meant to boost the Indian Navy’s frigate strength to new heights. The Nilgiri Class essentially gets technology upgrades from the Kolkata Class and substantially improves over the Shivalik Class. A total of 7 frigates will be built under this programme by two different shipyards. 4 of these ships will be built by Mazagon Docks and the last 3 will be built by GRSE. These frigates have a displacement of 6670 tonnes with a maximum speed of 28 knots.
There are multiple improvements over the Shivalik Class that these new frigates possess. These include stealth improvements such as the MF-STAR radar (to reduce number of antennae on the ship), flush-deck VLS system, covered mooring deck and a discreet visual profile. The construction methods have also been improved from this particular class of ships and it will increase construction time for future classes of Indian warships. They will use modular integrated construction from these class of ships onwards.
Armament of these frigates include; 32 x Barak-8 medium range missiles for air defence as well as 8 x VLS BrahMos missiles for surface attack. Secondary weapons include; 1 x 62cal BAE Mk45 naval gun, 2 x AK-630M CIWS, 2 x triple tubes, 2 x RBU-6000 rocket launcher. The armaments might look miniscule for such a large frigate. However, there are multiple new missile programmes in development (Astra-VLS, LRNCM based on Nirbhay) and they will be integrated onto all of the newer generation vessels once their tests are complete. They will most likely be integrated once the ships go for their refit.
Nilgiri Class can also operate 2 x Dhruv or a Sea King helicopter. However, it will most likely field the newly acquired MH-60R.
Project 28 Kamorta Class Corvettes [Designation: P28, P29, P30, P31]
Kamorta class corvettes are a stealthy anti-submarine warfare corvette as part of Project 28. They replace the Kora Class by precedence but the Abhay Class by role. This vessel has one of the largest proportions of indigenous systems (almost 90%) amongst all Indian warships. Kamorta Class development is split into two batches in reality, which explains the delay between the first two warships as well as the last two. The first two ships, Kamorta and Kadmatt were built with high-tensile indigenous steel and carbon fibre reinforced plastic. However, to enhance the stealth profile, the last two ships; Kiltan and Kavaratti, were built from composite materials imported from Sweden.
With a maximum speed of 25 knots, and a displacement of 3300 tons, these corvettes were purpose built to hunt down submarines near a carrier battle group. Armament of these corvettes are extremely light at: 1 x 76 mm 60-cal main gun, 2 x Ak-630M 30 mm gun, 2 x RBU-6000 and 4 x 533mm DTA-53torpedo tubes. Kamorta Class will also operate either a Dhruv or a Ka-28PL.
Project 25A Kora Class Corvettes [Designation: P61, P62, P63, P64]
Kora class corvettes guided missile corvettes built in India by GRSE. These corvettes are heavily and used mainly for surface combat. Under Project 25A, these corvettes are a replacement of the Petya II Class. Trishul SAM was supposedly assigned as the air defence system but due to the cancellation of the project, the Strela-2M and IGLA MANPADS were adopted instead. Displacement of these corvettes is 1,320 tons with a maximum speed of 25 knots.
Armaments include; 16 x KH-35 Uran for surface warfare (AShM). For air defence, Strela-2M MANPADS equips all the vessels for close range protection, with the exception of the INS Kulish, which has 2 IGLA SAM launchers. All vessels are fitted with 2 x AK630 as CIWS. For the main gun, all the vessels are equipped with the 76mm Otobreda gun with the exception of the lead ship of the class (INS Kora) which is armed with the 76mm AK-176.
Khukri Class Corvettes [Designation: P44, P46, P47, P49]
Khukri class corvettes were also used to replace the Petya II Class. The vessels were originally intended for a ASW warfare but do not possess any torpedo tubes nor any ASW sonar, with the exception of an echo sounder. They rely on helicopters (1 x Dhruv/Chetak) with dunking sonar and depth chargers/torpedoes for ASW warfare operations. Displacement of these corvettes is 1,291 tonnes with a maximum speed of 24 knots.
Armaments include; 4 x P15 Termit for surface attack, Sterla-2M SAM, 1 x 76 mm AK-176 gun and 2 x 30 mm AK-630 gun.
Chakra Class SSN [Designation: K-152]
Chakra class nuclear attack submarine is a leased Russian Project 518 (Akula Class) SSN that is currently in service with the Indian Navy. This is the second leased SSN serving with the Indian Navy after the first INS Chakra (same name given to both the submarines as one’s service preceded the other) which was a Russian Charlie I Class submarine. The current Chakra is on a ten year lease and would be returned back to the Russian Navy in 2022. There is a possibility of leasing another nuclear attack submarine after 2022, since it will take at least another decade before India’s very own indigenous SSNs will be inducted into service.
This submarine has a maximum displacement of 8140 tonnes and a maximum speed of 10 knots (surfaced) and 28-35 knots (submerged). Armaments of this submarine include; 8 × 533 mm torpedo tubes – 40 torpedoes in total.
Kilo (Sindhughosh) Class SSK [Designation: S60, S61, S62, S65]
Sindhughosh (Kilo) class submarines are a class of diesel-electric attack submarines which were manufactured by the Russian Sevmash shipyard. These submarines have a maximum displacement of 3076 tonnes and a maximum speed of 17 knots.
Out of the original 10 kilo submarines, only 8 submarines are still active, with INS Sindhuvir transferred to Myanmar and INS Sindhurakshak scrapped after an explosion onboard that sank it in the Mumbai harbour.
Armaments of these submarines include; 18 x Type 53-65 torpedoes, 24 x DM-1 mines and Club-S missiles (for the final unit).
Project 75 Kalvari Class SSK [Under Construction]
Kalvari class submarines are a class of diesel-electric attack submarines that are under licence production by Mazagon docks Ltd under TOT. These submarines have a maximum displacement of 1775 tonnes and a maximum speed of 20 knots. Under this programme, 6 vessels will be built with additional refits done to insert an indigenous AIP system. These submarines will also be complemented by the future submarine class (P75I) and the indigenous P76 class as well.
It is presumed that the first three vessels of this programme will be based with the western fleet while the other three (Vela, Vagir and Vagsheer) will be based in the Eastern fleet.
Armaments of these submarines include; 18 x AEG-SUT Mod-1 torpedoes or 30 x mines and SM39 Exocet missiles.
Current and Potential Fleet Deployment
This is an amalgamation of current vessels (capital ships) in the Indian Navy and their current deployed commands as well as future vessels (currently being build at shipyards, does not include planned vessels). There is a clear bias in strength towards the Eastern Fleet as it has to assert power against an ever-expanding Chinese navy (PLAN). The Western Fleet is more poised towards quick action against the most prominent threat in the Arabian Sea; the Pakistan Navy. This section includes types of capital ships, their quantities as well an estimated count of the weapon systems (mainly missiles) that they possess.
• INS Vikrant
• 4 x Vishakhapatnam Class Destroyers
• 4 x Rajput Class Destroyers
• 3 x Shivalik Class Frigates
• 7 x Nilgiri Class Frigates
• 5 x Talwar Class Frigates (Batch II & III)
• 4 x Kamorta Class Corvettes
• 4 x Kora Class Corvettes
• 4 x Khukri Class Corvettes
• 1 x Chakra SSN
• 3 x P75 SSK
• 4 x Kilo Class SSK
• 2 x Deepak Class Fleet Tanker
• 3 x Shardul Class Landing Ship
• 2 x Magar Class Landing Ship
Associated Weapon Systems:
• BrahMos x 204
• Styx (P-15 Termit) x 30
• Dhanush x 1
• Kh-35 x 64
• Exocet x 18
• Barak-8 x 416
• Barak-1 x 96
• Shtil-1 x 192