The Indian Navy has officially inducted its new nuclear missile tracking vessel, called the VC-11184 Ocean Surveillance Ship (OSS) following a delivery delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic. VC-11184 had been under construction since 2014. It was built by Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD)-owned shipbuilder, Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL). The Indian MOD sanctioned an initial amount of Rs. 725 crore (USD105 million) for the project and the total cost of the program was reportedly around Rs 1,500 crore (USD230 million). The commissioning was carried out secretively in October last year and have completed all trials.
The VC-11184 Ocean Surveillance Ship (OSS) will be jointly operated by the Indian Navy; the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), India’s defense R&D agency, and the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), the country’s technical intelligence agency. OSS reportedly also carry acoustic equipment, underwater listening devices and other extensive suites of navigation, communications, command and control (C3) equipment. But due to the high secrecy being maintained around the program, the exact capabilities and specifications are not known.
The vessel has an overall length of 175 m, a beam of 22 m, a depth of 6 m and a displacement of over 10,000 tonnes. The ship is reportedly fitted with a primary X band and a secondary S band active electronically scanned array (AESA) radars. It also has a long open deck for installing multiple missile tracking antennas. The ship is powered by two imported 9000kW combined diesel and diesel (CODAD) configuration marine diesel engines and three 1200 ekW auxiliary generators enabling it to have a maximum speed of 21 knots. It is equipped with a flight deck and hanger facilities for a HAL Chetak or HAL Dhruv ALH helicopter.
The VC-11184 Ocean Surveillance Ship (OSS) entry into service makes India one of the five nations that use such platforms to track missile launches even at far-off distances. The other four countries are the US France, Russia and China. Details about the vessel’s capabilities, onboard systems, and other specifications remain undisclosed. It will boost India’s ballistic missile defence capability and detect enemy launches. The vessel was ordered around seven years back as part of the Indian government’s focus on creating a defense shield against hostile nuclear-armed ballistic missiles.