Monday, September 27, 2010

"BUILDER'S NAVY", Warship Constructions in India - A Philatelic Overview

The Indian Navy’s resolute pursuit of indigenous design efforts, combined with endeavours of Indian Shipyards in construction of warships and submarines have laid the foundation of what is termed as “BUILDER’S NAVY”
    Naval Dockyard, Bombay was established in 1736,the maxim card depicts Dockyard’s Duncan Drydocks. It is the oldest Dockyard east of Suez which commenced its Ship-building and Repair activities in 1736. HMS Minden, an Indian teakwood man-of-war was the first ship to be launched in 1810 from Duncan Dock, Bombay. This was also the first ship commissioned in the Royal Navy from India.HMS Minden was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 19 June 1810. She was named after the German town Minden and the Battle of Minden of 1759,a decisive victory of British and Prussian forces over France in the Seven Years' War.
 The "Star-spangled Banner", the National anthem of USA was composed on board HMS MINDEN in 1814 by Francis Scott Key in Baltimore harbour when he was a prisoner of the British on board this ship.

The Navy of Independent India made a modest beginning with half a dozen Destroyers and Frigates,a few Mine Sweepers along with a Corvette and a Survey vessel inherited from the Royal Indian Navy. The creation of a Corps of Naval Constructors in 1956 (not 1954, mentioned in the brochure published by the Dept. of Posts), setting up of a Central Design Office in 1964, establishment of Directorate of Naval Ship Design in 1970, followed by Directorate of Ship Production and Submarine Design has metamorphosed into the controllerate of Warships Production and Acquisitions at the Naval Headquarters.

The Corps of Naval Construction, since its inception on 23 November 1956 has rendered yeoman service towards the growth and maintenance of the Naval fleet and has effectively contributed towards transformation of the Indian Navy to a “Builders” blue water Navy.(Excerpts from the Army Postal Service brochure).

Mumbai based Mazagon Dock Ltd.(MDL), a Government of India Undertaking, under Ministry of Defence. Until the 19th. century Mazagon Docks used to build wooden hulled warships for the British Navy. On 19th. April 1961 the Government of India took over the shipyard from the then owner the British "P&O Line" with a view to build large frigate sized warships in India.

Govt. of India’s decision to build Leander class Frigates at Mazagon Dock Ltd. based on the designs obtained from the Ministry of Defence (MOD), U.K. in early 1960s marked the early steps of modern warship building in the country.MDL in collaboration with Vickers Defence Systems and Yarrow (Shipbuilders)Ltd., 
built six Guided-missile Frigates, INS Nilgiri (F-33), Godavari (F-20), Udaygiri (F-35), Dunagiri (F-36), Taragiri (F-41) & Vindhyagiri (F-42).

INS Delhi (D-61) a Guided Missile Destroyer built by MDL for the Indian Navy, commissioned on 15 November 1998.
INS Shalki (S-46), the first indigenously built diesel-electric attack submarine. The production of INS Shalki (S-46) and INS Shankul (S-47) submarines at MDL under licence between 1984 and 1994 was another MDL’s hallmark achievement. The submarines were designed by Ingenieur Kontor Lübeck. German Ministry of Defense designated the submarine as “Type 209”, it was developed exclusively for export by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) - a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.

Currently, French shipbuilder DCN International is collaborating with Mazagon Dock Ltd.on building Scorpene class submarines under ToT (Transfer of Technology) arrangement made between Ministry of Defence (MOD), Government of India and the French Ministere de la Defence (DGA).
 Kolkata based Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers, until 1976 known as Garden Reach Workshops (GRW) Ltd. The company was established in 1884 as a small repair unit of the British India Steam Navigation Co (BISN), On 26 Feb 1934 the Company acquired its corporate entity as Garden Reach Workshops Ltd. Later, it became a unit of P& O Line. The Government of India took it over on 19 April 1961 and placed it under the administrative control of Ministry of Defence.

The name of the company was changed to Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd.(GRSE) from 1st. January 1977 owing to its growing diversified activities. It has dedicated Units for production of Deck Machinery and 
 Marine Diesel Engine Plant at Ranchi as separate cost centres.
On 1st. July 2006 GRSE took over Rajabagan Dockyard of Kolkata from Central Inland Water Transport Corporation Ltd.(CIWTC Ltd) and became the largest shipyard in the country.

INS Magar (L-20) Landing Ship Tank Large built by GRSE Ltd, commissioned at Calcutta on 18 July 1997. LST(L) is an amphibious warship providing platform for the Armoured Tanks / vehicles and troops. She has landing and stowage facility for indigenously built Dhrub Helicopters.(The postal cancellation was designed by the author)
INS Shardul (L-16) the third LST(L) built by GRSE Ltd. and commissioned on 4 January 2007 at Karwar. This is the first ship to be commissioned in Karnataka and the first Amphibious ship to be is based on the Western seaboard.

INS Brahmaputra (F-31), the first Missile Frigate built by GRSE  for the Indian Navy, commissioned on 14 April 2000 at Calcutta. The first Naval ship commissioned in the new millennium year. The profile of this ship has appeared on Stamps, First day Covers, Post mark and also on Cover page of Brochures, thus making it  most published (philatelic) warship in India.(The spl. cover was designed by the author)
Affiliation of INS Beas with The Grenadiers of the Indian Army.

INS Beas (F-37), the third Brahmaputra class Frigate built by GRSE Ltd for the Indian Navy, commissioned on 11 July 2005.
The special cover was released on the occasion of commissioning of INS SAGARDHWANI at Calcutta on 30 July 1994 was signed by the then Vice-President of India K.R. Narayan and K.V. Raghunath Reddy, the then Governor of West Bengal. (The spl. cover was designed by the author).
INS Sagardhwani- a Marine Acoustic Research Ship (MARS) built by GRSE Ltd. for the Naval Physical & Oceanographic Laboratory, Defence Research & Design Organisation, Kochi. The ship is specially designed for underwater acoustic and oceanographic research covering areas of acoustic, physical, chemical, geophysical and meteorological experimental work at sea.
INS KHANJAR, the second missile corvette, a front line warship built by GRSE. Commissioned into Indian Navy on 22 October 1991 by Admiral L. Ramdas, Chief of the Naval Staff.
INS Kora (P-61) the third Missile Corvette and the first of the class warship built by GRSE Ltd for the Indian  Navy. Commissioned on 10 August 1998. This is a front line warship equipped with surface to surface and surface to air missiles and anti-aircraft guns fitted with early warning radars.
Twin commissioning of GRSE built Water Jet Fast Attack Crafts INS CARNICOBAR and INS CHETLAT at Chennai on 16 February 2009. The new generation Water Jet FACs, designed in-house, are improved versions of earlier vessels. A more efficient hull-form helped to achieve a greater speed.
 Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) originally known as ‘Estaleiros Navis De Goa’ was founded in November 1957. After liberation of Goa the company was leased to Mazagon Dock Ltd, Bombay. Later, the shipyard became an independent Public Sector Undertaking under Ministry of Defence, Government of India.

The Circumnavigation of INS TARANGINI, 23.1.2003 - 25.4.2004
‘INS TARANGINI’ is a three-masted barque, designed by Colin Muddie of UK and built by Goa Shipyard Ltd. Commissioned into the Indian Navy on 11 November 1997, forms a part of the 1st. Training Squadron, based at Kochi under the Southern Naval Command. INS Tarangini is the only Sail Training Ship in the Indian Navy.

Cochin Shipyard Ltd, Kochi, is now engaged in building for the Indian Navy, India’s first indigenous Aircraft Carrier, a second generation INS VIKRANT

Hindustan Shipyard Ltd. owes its origins to Walchand Hirachand, the then chairman of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company Limited. Born as the Scindia Shipyard in 1941, it was nationalised to be known as the Hindustan Shipyard Ltd in 1961. Having emerged as the largest public sector shipyard, under the Ministry of Shipping, it was transferred to the Defence Ministry in 2009 in order to augment warship productions.
Note; We shall present the philatelic representation on India's Coast Guard ships in a forthcoming issue.


  1. The painting of the missile boats firing was done by Mohan Khare as a series of 12 paintings for the Killers Nite 2010. These paintings formed the core of a beautiful magazine "First Strike" and a calendar released the same evening. Mohan Khare is one of the very few marine artists in India and has done a number of seascapes, paintings of warships and lighthouses. Many of his works adorn the Western Naval Command Officers Mess, Naval Academy and INS Valsura. He can be reached on 09869197192 and His paintings can also be seen on

  2. Flat in Yamuna Expressway
    :-very nice information, we are glad to read this news or post,

  3. Great information shared here. If you are looking for residential, commercial property for sale (brokerage free) then your search is over now because we gruhkhoj provides best commercial office shops properties at affordable rates. Thanks for sharing. Real Estate Satara