New Delhi: The India Navy, safeguarding sea lanes and ports spread across thousands of kilometres of coastlines in the eastern and western seaboards, has only two minesweeper ships left at its disposal while it actually requires 12 such warships, Rear Admiral Rajaram Swaminathan, Assistant Chief of Material, Indian Navy, said. Also Read - Decks Cleared For Permanent Commission To Women Officers in Indian Army. Details Here

“The Navy needs these ships urgently,” Swaminathan said. Also Read - Explained: New Air Independent Propulsion System For Submarines Is A Significant Milestone For Navy

Minesweepers are mine counter-measure vessels (MCMVs) that detect and destroy water mines laid by enemy to sabotage operations at naval and commercial harbours. They are considered vital for keeping the critical sea lanes safe for movement of essential cargo, including crude oil. Also Read - INS Karanj, Third Scorpene-Class Submarine Commissioned Into Indian Navy

Speaking on the sidelines of the launch of a fuel barge for the Navy on Friday, he said that Defence PSU Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) is in the process of collaborating with a foreign firm for manufacturing minesweepers.

Earlier this year, the government had cancelled the project to build 12 minesweeper ships under its ‘Make in India’ scheme. The vessels were to made in the Goa Shipyard in partnership with South Korea.

The dead was reportedly cancelled as South Korean shipyard Kangnam wanted changes in the RPF. This is one of the six major projects scrapped by the government due to procedural bottlenecks. These projects were to be carried out in India and were worth over Rs 3.5 lakh crore.

Since then, the government has been looking for a foreign collaborator for its over Rs. 32,000 crore project, entrusted to GSL, for procuring 12 minesweeper ships.

The basic function of these ships would be to locate, classify, sweep and neutralise all types of ground moored and drift mines.

A parliamentary standing committee on defence last year had slammed the government for delay in procurement of the minesweepers and asked it to make efforts to fill the gap in the Navy’s capability.

There are at least 12 major ports and several other minor or intermediate ports in the eastern and western seaboards.

The gap in the operational capability is a threat to maritime security as Chinese vessels, which have the capability of laying mines, have been very active in the Indian ocean recently.