Private Shipbuilding Firm Wins Indian OPV Contract
In June 2010, India’s largest privately-owned ship-builder, Pipavav Shipyard, won a Rs 2,600 crore (about $553.5 million) contract, as the lowest bidder to build 5 new 110m, 2,000t offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the Indian Navy. These would be more than mere coastal patrol boats, with expeditionary range throughout the Indian Ocean and beyond. A good comparison might be the US Coast Guard’s current fleet of 115m, 2,950t Hamilton Class high endurance cutters. With 2 of the globe’s major centers of piracy standing athwart their shipping lanes in the western Indian Ocean, and through the Straits of Malacca, large patrol vessels with good endurance are an important part of India’s force mix.
On an industrial level, this is a significant contract for Gurjat’s Pipavav shipyard, for 2 reasons. One is that it swells their order book by almost a third, to 7,000 crore. The other is that it marks their first foray into Indian military shipbuilding. India’s government is beginning to place more emphasis on trade, and their location gives them natural maritime interests. Prime Minister Singh sees a strong private shipbuilding sector as part of that push, and a 2009 policy proposal sought to nurture that sector by having them build smaller-size vessels for the coast guard and navy. Larger defense contracts would be left to the few state-controlled shipyards that have executed them in the past – but Pipavav has expressed the intention before of moving up to more complex naval ships, as they gain expertise. India’s Economic Times | India’s ET on PM Singh speech | Pipavav Shipyard news.