Tuesday, Dec 26, 2023

INS Imphal commissioned today: Its capabilities, and the strategic significance of Visakhapatnam class of destroyers 

Commissioning marks the day that a ship joins active service. Here is all you need to know, and how the Vishakhapatnam class includes new features compared to the previous class of indigenous destroyers.

INS Imphal.Visakhapatnam class is arguably one of the most advanced classes of ships in the Indian Navy. It can operate as an independent offence platform even when not part of a large formation. (Photo via

INS Imphal (Pennant D68), the third of four warships of Project 15B that together form the Visakhapatnam class stealth-guided missile destroyers, is set to be commissioned into the Indian Navy on Tuesday (December 26). Here is all you need to know about the development, technological assets, weaponry and strategic significance of the Visakhapatnam class of ships the youngest in the lineage of Delhi and Kolkata classes of indigenous destroyers.

What is Project 15B?

Between 2014 and 2016, the Indian Navy commissioned three guided missile destroyers of Kolkata class under a project codenamed ‘15A’. The Kolkata class included INS Kolkata, INS Kochi and INS Chennai. These ships were a step ahead of their precursor Delhi class of ships, which included INS Delhi, INS Mysore and INS Mumbai, built under Project 15 and commissioned between 1997 and 2001.

Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited (MDSL), one of India’s key Defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), has built all these ships. A ship class signifies a group of ships built with similar tonnage, usage, capabilities and weaponry.


For building the advanced variants of the Kolkata class guided missile destroyers, a contract for construction under the project codenamed ‘15B’ was signed in January 2011. The lead ship of Project 15B, INS Visakhapatnam (Pennant No D66), was commissioned into the Indian Navy in November 2021 and the second ship INS Mormugao (D67) in December 2022. The fourth ship, D69, which when commissioned will be christened INS Surat, was launched in May last year.

Designed by the Indian Navy’s in-house warship design entity Warship Design Bureau, and built by MDSL in Mumbai, the four ships of Project 15B are christened after major cities from all four corners of the country — Visakhapatnam, Mormugao, Imphal and Surat. The class is identified by its lead ship, in this case INS Visakhapatnam.

The construction of Yard 12706, now INS Imphal

Festive offer

Four major ceremonial events mark a ship’s life keel laying, launching, commissioning and decommissioning. The keel laying ceremony originates from the tradition of laying one central timber which forms the backbone of the ship.

For modern ships, keel laying is marked by the first of the modular components of the ship being placed in the dock. The time taken to build Imphal and the period for her trials is the shortest for any indigenous destroyer, the Ministry of Defence has said. The keel of INS Imphal (which was referred to as Yard Number 12706) was laid on May 17, 2017.


The next milestone is launching when the ship is transferred from the building site into the waters. Yard 12706 was launched into the water on April 20, 2019. It sailed out for her maiden sea trials on April 28 earlier this year and completed a comprehensive schedule of trials, both in the harbour and at sea, leading up to its delivery on October 20. This was done within a record time frame of six months – the fastest for a ship of its size. On Tuesday, the ship is set for commissioning, marking the day the ship joins the active service.

Technological Characteristics and Armament of Visakhapatnam class

The four ships of the class are 163 meters long and 17.4m wide, with a displacement of 7,400 tonnes. To put it in perspective, India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is 262 meters in length, 62 meters wide and displaces around 43,000 tonnes when fully loaded. The ship has a ‘combined gas and gas’ (COGAG) configuration integrating four gas turbines. The propulsion system allows the ship to reach a maximum speed of 30 knots and a maximum range of 4000 nautical miles.

Ships of Visakhapatnam class are operated by a crew of around 350, including 50 officers and 250 sailors. The accommodation and working areas have superior ergonomics and habitability as compared to its predecessor classes of destroyers.


Visakhapatnam class of destroyers have multiple fire zones, elaborate battle damage control systems and distributional power systems for improved survivability and reliability for operating in extreme operational and conflict scenarios. The class also has a total atmospheric control system (TACS) that offers protection to the crew from chemical, biological and nuclear threats.

They are also equipped with a state-of-the-art combat management system that can evaluate threats using analytical tools and create a tactical picture that includes available resources on board. This helps to allocate the resources based on the tactical picture compiled and the weapons package available on board. The class has a secure network to handle data from all the sensors and weapons systems.

The arsenal of the Visakhapatnam class has BrahMos surface-to-surface cruise missiles and vertically launched Barak-8 surface-to-air missiles for long-range engagement of shore and sea-based targets. The forward bow deck of the ship has a 127 mm main gun and also has four AK-630 30mm guns for close-point engagement.

The ship is armed with indigenously developed 533 mm torpedo launchers and RBU-6000 anti-submarine rocket launchers to provide anti-submarine warfare capability. It can operate two multi-role helicopters, including Sea King or HAL Dhruv. The ship has a rail-less helicopter traversing and also has a hangar facility.

Strategic Significance

Technically, destroyers are a category of warships that have high speed, manoeuvrability and longer endurance. They are designed to be part of naval formations like a fleet or a carrier battle group also known as carrier strike group.


The modern destroyers that are swift, sleek and difficult to detect, primarily protect the fleets and carrier battle groups from the short-range attackers from surface, air and sub-surface. The guided-missile destroyers are the destroyers that are armed with guided missiles for anti-aircraft warfare, anti-surface operations and anti-submarine warfare.

Because of the speed, manoeuvrability and striking capability, the guided missile destroyers are a key asset in various types of naval operations, mainly offensive. Being a follow-on of the Kolkata class, the Visakhapatnam class incorporates not just the feedback and suggestions from the Navy but also several new features. The state-of-the-art stealth feature makes Visakhapatnam class have the radar signature of a very small ship. A very high indigenous component gives this platform a strategic edge.


Visakhapatnam class is arguably one of the most advanced classes of ships in the Indian Navy. It can operate as an independent offence platform even when not part of a large formation. With all its modern sensors and communication facilities, the class is a key asset in network-centric warfare, which denotes the use of information technology and computer networking tools to form networks of various force elements in play in a conflict scenario.

A tribute to the city of Imphal

The Ministry of Defence has said:

“INS Imphal will have the unique distinction of being the largest and the most advanced destroyer to be ever named after a city from the North-east. This is a befitting tribute to Manipur’s sacrifices and contributions in India’s freedom struggle, be it the Anglo-Manipur War of 1891, or Netaji Subash Chandra Bose’s hoisting of the INA flag for the first time on April 14, 1944 at Moirang, or the pitched Battle of Imphal between British and Imperial Japanese forces, with Indians on both sides, that turned the tide of the Burma campaign and shaped the outcome of the Second World War and the new world order. The commissioning of Imphal, thus, underscores the salience and contribution of the city of Imphal, the state of Manipur and the larger North-eastern region to national security, sovereignty and prosperity.”

First published on: 26-12-2023 at 10:40 IST
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