NEW DELHI: The government has cleared the acquisition of a massive naval ship from the United States, which would drastically improve India’s naval capabilities in disaster relief operations and amphibious operations. USS Trenton, a modern day “Trojan Horse”, would become the second largest ship in the Navy after the INS Viraat when it joins service.
USS Trenton, a Landing Platform Dock (LPD) along with four Landing Craft Mechanised (LCM) would be bought form the US for $48.23 million, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Parliament on Thursday.
Sources said the news of the Cabinet Committee on Security giving final clearance to the purchase was kept under wraps for the past few days on the request of the Americans.
They had reasoned that the news would further arm the non-proliferation and peacenik lobbies in the US who argue against Indo-US nuclear deal and criticise American contribution to the arms race between India and Pakistan in South Asia.
Sources said the Navy has also appointed Captain BS Ahluwalia as the first captain of Trenton, which would join the Indian Navy sometime next year after refit. Ahluwalia would lead the first crew of Trenton to bring it back to India from the US, sources said.
The Navy has also appointed a Naming Committee to finalise a name for Trenton when it joins the Indian military service. All other amphibious ships of Indian Navy are named after amphibious beings, so Trenton too is expected to get such a name.
The Indian Navy’s biggest amphibious ship today is the 3,600-ton Magar class Amphibious Warfare Vessel, one of which had suffered a fire on board in February 2006, when ammunition went off on board killing three sailors.Trenton has a displacement of 17,000 ton.
A Magar class vessel can carry 15 tanks, 8 Armoured Personnel Carriers and 500 troops, but it needs to be beached through its front portion. Trenton’s abilities are at least twice that, and it can also carry six medium-lift helicopters and can also house smaller landing crafts.
Mukherjee told the Parliament that the “ship would provide the Indian Navy enhanced amphibious capability. In addition, the LPD can be deployed for disaster relief operations. It can also function as a command and control platform during mishaps at sea like offshore oil installation fires and maritime air accidents.”