August 1, 2014

India builds warships with indigenously developed Alloy Steel DMR249A

In the last month when Rear Admiral (retd) A K Verma, CMD, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) formally handed over the INS Kamorta to commissioning captain Commander Manoj Jha, India touched another milestone in steel making. The day would be marked when India shed her dependency on imported high-grade steel to build warships. DMR249A, or the new category of steel made at Alloy Steel Plant (ASP), Durgapur and further strengthened at the Bhilai Steel Plant, was used to build the anti-submarine warfare corvette. Both, these Steel Plants are the units of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL), a PSU, is the largest producer of iron and steel in India.

"This was the first ship of the Kamorta class of ASW corvettes. These are very advanced vessels. Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) are presently building the three other vessels of this class. All of them will be built using DMR249A. This was a great achievement for the country. Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) has developed this steel and we will no longer have to depend on imports for naval shipbuilding that will certainly go up in the days to come. Even the hull of the INS Vikrant, India's indigenous aircraft carrier that is under construction, has been built with this steel. The flight deck of the aircraft carrier has been built using a superior quality steel that was also made at the Alloy Steel Plant," a senior defence ministry official said. 

Till now, India has been primarily using Russian-made AB Steel for naval shipbuilding. With India aiming to turn into a 'Builders Navy' from a 'Buyers Navy', the country can't rely solely on imports of steel. The bulk of sensors and weapons systems on the INS Kamorta have also been supplied by Indian companies. 
Besides pricing, one has to consider changes in the global political scenario. A time may come when sanctions are imposed and exports to India are banned by countries that now supply steel for shipbuilding. Employees at GRSE were trained in ASP specially for welding this steel - DMR249A. This quality of steel was first developed in ingot form at the Heavy Engineering Corporation (HEC), Ranchi as per specifications of the Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory. At Alloy Steel Plant Durgapur, the steel was cast into plates with an aim to build a superior quality steel. It was left to Bhilai Steel Plant to produce plates of 8-16 mm thickness without Quenching and Tempering (Q&T), through controlled rolling. The steel can absorb an impact of 78 Joules at 60 degrees below zero. As temperature reduces, the steel actually becomes tougher. This will enable the ship to sail in as low temperature as in arctic waters if the need arises. 
(Source: Excerpts from TOI)

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