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India Quietly Commissions its First Ballistic Missile Tracking Vessel

Hindustan shipyard
File image courtesy HSL

Published Mar 19, 2021 5:12 PM by Ankur Kundu

Joining an elite club of nations with access to nuclear missile tracking vessels, the Indian Navy secretly commissioned the highly secretive Ocean Surveillance Ship, bestowing it with the coden ame VC-1118.

Reports suggest that this move will boost India’s ballistic missile defense system as well as systematically improve ways of increasing its electronic warfare capabilities.

The vessel has been under construction since 2014 and was commissioned in October 2019 without any public ceremony, according to the Economic Times. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic delayed the commissioning process by a few months, but the vessel passed all its trials before being put into service.

To realize the strategic importance of the move, one has to understand that India is only the fifth country in the world - after the U.S., France, China, and Russia - to operate such a vessel, which will prove to be a great tool for monitoring the developmental trial of its domestic missile program.

But its main use will be to act as an 'early warning' ship for incoming missile launches on the country, increasing the effectiveness of the BMD (ballistic missile defense) shield already in possession with the Indian Army. Such a tool will prove to be handy in the long run, since both of India's immediate neighbors - Pakistan and China - are armed to the teeth with nuclear warheads.

Hindustan Shipyard Limited, where the construction of the vessel took place, was founded in 1941, by Scindia Steam Navigation Company Ltd. Recognizing its strategic importance, the shipyard was transferred from the Ministry of Shipping to the Ministry of Defence in February 2010.