The Hindu yesterday had an interesting news item, albeit consigned to the side column. An Indian Naval Ship was calling at Vizhinjam Port (Thiruvananthapuram) the next day and public could visit it from morning till evening. Till then my association with the Navy Vessels was fairly non existent, apart from reading up on them if interested and listening to Nidhin’s NCC memories of sleeping in the hangar of a naval warship and having sighted quite a few Navy Ships off the Cochin coast during my Expedition_5 also thanks to Nidhin who’d pointed them out to me. I was much elated at this possibility of being actually aboard a navy ship.
The day dawned and I found the same news in a malayalam daily as well, by then I had already made up my mind to be meeting up with INS KABRA. Having had my breakfast, I left home on my #1843, headed out to the Vizhinjam Harbour. I had on an earlier occasion been to the Light House and almost upto the breakwaters adjoining the Wharf, so the route wasn’t a problem as such. I reached there a little after quarter past eleven and could already see that people had turned up in good numbers, in fact there was quite a crowd. I too joined the long queue that snaked along to the vessel. After quite some time along the breakwater blocks, I caught the first glimpse of her.
It took almost an hour before we wound all the way around the wharf and finally came to close quarters with the vessel.
Even before I actually entered the vessel, i saw people mostly kids having those sun-visors with the insignia of INS KABRA. I too wanted one anyhow and upon getting onboard I asked a Navyman whether I too could have one, a request that was refused. It was only for kids, they said. Being a kid was always on the perkier side and it was reafirmed here as well. But I resolved to have one of them by the time I left Vizhinjam, by hook or by crook. Now, before I proceed any further let me admit that I know nothing whatsoever about Naval Ships, leave alone any technical specifications. So all about the ship written here is siphoned off from wikipedia, I admit without shame! 😉
Now let’s delve into what INS KABRA really is:
INS Kabra (T-76) is a naval vessel named after an island of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. It belongs to the Car Nicobar class of high-speed offshore patrol vessels are built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) for the Indian Navy. Kabra was eighth in a series of 12 Fast Attack Crafts designed as a cost-effective platform for patrol, anti-piracy and rescue operations in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone. It is among the first water jet propelled vessels of the Indian Navy.
|lass and type:||Car Nicobar class patrol vessel|
|Type:||Fast Attack Craft|
|Propulsion:||3 water jet propulsion engines producing 11,238 hp|
|Range:||2,000 miles @ 12-14 knots|
|Crew:||3 officers and 39 sailors|
History: INS Kabra was commissioned by Vice-Admiral K.N. Sushil, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command, at the Kochi naval base on 8 June 2011. Commander Bandhul Mishra, a specialist in missile, weapons and radar systems was the first commander of INS Kabra.
Design: The Car Nicobar class vessels were designed and built by GRSE. Production of the class was fast-tracked after the 2008 Mumbai attacks. The vessels feature improved habitability with fully air-conditioned modular accommodation, on board reverse osmosis plant for desalination, and a sewage treatment plant.
The vessels are each powered by three HamiltonJet HM811 water jets, coupled with MTU 16V 4000 M90 engines, delivering a combined 8160 KW of power. An aluminium superstructure reduces weight and is designed to reduce radar cross-section.
As patrol vessels, they are lightly armed. They carry various sensors, including the Furuno navigation radar and sonar. Armament on board includes a 30mm CRN-91 automatic cannon with an electronic day-night fire control system of Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) origin. The vessels also mount two 12.7mm heavy machine guns (HMG) and multiple medium machine guns, besides carrying shoulder-launched Igla surface-to-air missiles to combat aerial threats.
Kabra has a top speed of more than 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph). The improved manoeuvrability and speed allows Kabra to have high-speed interdiction of fast-moving targets.
Armaments and Crew: Kabra’s main armament is a 30-mm CRN-91 gun. It is fitted with machine guns of various types and the IGLA shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. The ship has a crew of three officers and 39 sailors and is presently commanded by Commander Dharmendra Singh Bareth, an alumnus of the National Defence Academy.
Once we entered through the door on the side, we were led above through a staircase inside. We emerged on the upper deck, the front side had an officer explaining navigation systems to a group of interested people. We climbed down to the rear end and walked around to the front through the seaboard side, all the while clicking away photographs. I spent quite some time onboard, fully aware of the fact that being on one of them wasn’t ever easy as it was this time around.
Once I deboarded the vessel, I went around clicking photos of the ship. Then I proceeded to side of the wharf where there was Navy merchandise on sale, which I sadly couldn’t afford with the limited ‘Gandhis’ I had on me. My attention then turned to the next stall where they’d displayed arms carried on board the INS KABRA. I got the chance to lay my hands on all of them i.e. Pistol, Carbine, INSAS Rifle, and Mortar (Forgive the layman for the improper nomenclature!).
Once that was also done, it was time to bid goodbye to the INS KABRA until next time. It was quite a memorable experience for a layman like me to get up close with a naval ship, even if it was as part of Naval Week celebrations! Many thanks, INDIAN NAVY.
PS: I seriously hope that photographs posted here aren’t objectionable. If there are any issues whatsoever, I am all for taking them down. Do let me know. 🙂
Edit: I did take home a bit of the INS KABRA being naturally good at picking up left behind items, fetching a sunvisor that was left out on the ground right outside the port premises !