November would be a landmark month for the Indian Navy with Commissioning of “INS Visakhapatnam (D66)”, the first stealth guided missile destroyer ship of the Project 15B in the presence of Hon’ble Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh on 21 Nov 21. INS Visakhapatnam is the lead ship of the Visakhapatnam-class stealth guided-missile destroyers of the Indian Navy. The Visakhapatnam-class (P-15B), was designed by the Directorate of Naval Design, the Indian Navy’s premier organization for designing warships. The P-15B retains a significant amount of its hull design, propulsion systems, sensors and ordnance from its predecessor, the Kolkata-class (P-15A), to benefit from series production. The ship got commissioned on 21 November 2021 at the Naval dockyard in Mumbai by the Defence Minister of India.
The P-15A (Kolkata-class) destroyers and the P-15B (Visakhapatnam-class) destroyers have no major physical differences, except for the differing bridge layouts; the bridge of the P-15B destroyers starkly differs to that of the P-15A – they were designed in such a way so as to reduce radar cross-section (RCS), and to improve survivability. Visakhapatnam has been constructed using indigenous steel DMR 249A and is amongst the largest destroyers constructed in India with an overall length of 163m and displacement of over 7400 tons. The ship has a significant indigenous content of approx. 75% contributing towards AtmaNirbhar Bharat. The ship is a potent platform capable of undertaking multifarious task and missions spanning the full spectrum of maritime warfare.
The vessels of the class are equipped with a OTO Melara 76 mm naval gun. Originally, the Indian Navy had planned to equip the vessels of the class with the Mk 45 127 mm naval gun, manufactured by BAE; however, this plan was reported to have been scrapped, on grounds of financial issues. For point-defence, the vessels are equipped with four AK-630M CIWS, with two systems on either side of the superstructure. For anti-air warfare (AAM), the destroyers are equipped with 32 Barak-8ER SAM (LR-SAM), in four 8-cell VLS. For anti-surface warfare (ASuW), the destroyers are equipped with 16 BrahMos anti-ship missiles (AShM) (also used as land-attack missiles (LAM)), enclosed in two 8-cell VLS at the bow.
For anti-submarine warfare (ASW), each destroyer is equipped with two twin-torpedo launchers, presumably for the Varunastra heavyweight-torpedo, developed by the DRDO. The destroyers are also equipped with two RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launchers, primarily for firing ASW rockets Reportedly, the Nirbhay cruise missile and the VL-SRSAM surface-to-air missile have been speculated to be future additions to the destroyers. Each destroyer is equipped with a helicopter hangar to accommodate two medium-sized helicopters – primarily the HAL Dhruv, or the Westland Sea King Mk. 42B; the ships are equipped with a “rail-less” helicopter traversing system, meant for securing the helicopter, in case of adverse weather conditions at sea.