Kolkata-based Defence PSU Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Ltd, launched an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) on Friday (July 28, 2023). In a pioneering move towards the development of AUVs, GRSE has collaborated with M/s Aerospace Engineering Private Ltd. (AEPL). The AUV was named “Neerakshi”(meaning “Eyes in the Water”) and launched by Dr Samir V Kamat, Secretary, Defence Research & Development (DR&D) and Chairman, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Cmde PR Hari IN (Retd.), Chairman and Managing Director, GRSE, and other Senior Officials of Indian Armed Forces, GRSE and AEPL were present on the occasion. The development of this AUV is also a major step towards indigenous capability development in keeping with the nation’s Atmanirbharta policy.
The lightweight and man-portable AUV has been designed to operate in a totally autonomous manner and its modular design enables it to carry out a variety of roles depending on the payload. The 2.15m long AUV will have an endurance of nearly 4 hours, and is capable of operating up to a depth of 300m. These AUVs once in operation by our Armed Forces, could play an important role in mine countermeasure operations and also make excellent reusable targets during Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) practices by warships. They can also be deployed for passive acoustic monitoring during which they could remain in position for prolonged durations, monitoring the possible movement of sub-surface platforms.
Dr Samir V Kamat appreciated GRSE’s efforts and highlighted the role being played by the industry and Startups in developing technology for defence purposes. “It’s indeed very heartening to see a collaboration between a large shipyard and an MSME, which has resulted in this very innovative product being indigenously designed and developed in the country. Our honourable Prime Minister has set us a goal of not only becoming Atmanirbhar but also a leading exporter of Defence Systems and technologies. This can happen only if we have such partnerships. So, this is the first example I have seen where a large company has tied up with a MSME and I am sure this will be a forerunner to many such partnerships in the country.” he said.
He also stated, “I am glad to see that GRSE is also not just stopping with doing this Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, they have plans to make an Autonomous Sea Surface Vehicle, a Sea-based Drone and also look at green propulsion for ships as well as other platforms. I am sure, that in the coming years, the Defence industry in the country will not only meet the aspirations of the nation but also become developers of cutting-edge systems, developers of innovative solutions for our services and also generate a lot of exports for the country.”
“Our USP is product diversity” said Cmde PR Hari IN (Retd), Chairman and Managing Director, GRSE. “Our products range from warships to commercial ships to deck machinery to portable steel bridges, and marine diesel engines. In the recent past, we decided to take it to another level. We created a separate vertical for ship repairs and interestingly, for the manufacture of naval armaments, specifically, 30 MM naval Surface Gun. Thereafter, considering the present environment and realizing the importance of technology, we took a very conscious management decision to focus on a few areas that will hold us in good stead in future. So, we decided to focus on development of green energy platforms and autonomous platforms in all the three domains of operations – Sub-surface, Surface and Aerial. The launch of the Underwater Autonomous Platform we witnessed today is the successful culmination of one such initiative.”, he added.