INS Vela (S24), a significant addition to the Indian Navy, is the fourth submarine in the first batch of six Kalvari-class submarines. This diesel-electric attack submarine is built on the Scorpène class, resulting from a design partnership between the French naval defence and energy corporation DCNS and the renowned Indian shipyard Mazagon Dock Limited, near Mumbai. On July 14, 2009, the submarine’s journey started with the first steel cutting, and on May 6, 2019, it was officially launched.
On November 9, 2021, INS Vela was formally delivered to the Indian Navy, marking a momentous milestone. On November 25, of that same year, Admiral Karambir Singh, the Chief of the Naval Staff, received the honour of being commissioned into active service, a strategically significant event.
The historical thread is further interwoven as INS Vela bears the renowned name of its predecessor, INS Vela (S40), the lead ship of the Vela class and faithfully served the Navy from 1973 to 2010. Notably, the commissioning ceremony of the INS Vela’s replacement was graced by members of the original crew, promoting a sense of continuity and history.
The name “Vela” refers to an aggressive, offensive-minded Indian fish belonging to the stingray family capable of hiding from would-be predators. This alone makes the name meaningful. The crest of the submarine depicts a stingray swimming over the blue waters.
The ship’s mascot, the “sub-ray,” deftly combines the ideas of a submarine and stingray to add a dash of humour and meaning. This mascot, which embodies the unique characteristics of a stingray, represents the submarine’s character transformation. All things considered, INS Vela (S24) is not only a powerful marine craft but also a representation of the sea’s tenacity and naval tradition.
Submarines of the Kalvari-class, INS Vela (S24) have a displacement of 1,615 tonnes when surfaced and 1,775 tonnes while submerged. The submarine has dimensions that enhance its operational capability, measuring 67.5 metres in length, 6.2 metres in beam, and 12.3 metres in height. A 5.8-metre draught is specified.
INS Vela’s propulsion system, which can operate in both surface and submerged modes, consists of 360 battery cells and four MTU 12V 396 SE84 diesel engines. Additionally, a mid-life refurbishment is scheduled to include the integration of a DRDO PAFC Fuel Cell Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system. The submarine can travel 20 knots underwater and 11 knots on the surface.
Range-wise, INS Vela can go 550 nautical miles at 4 knots when submerged and 6,500 nautical miles at 8 knots when surfaced. With a 50-day operational capability, the submarine’s endurance is impressive. It can function at a test depth of 350 metres.
Thirty-five sailors and eight officers make up the personnel of INS Vela, providing a highly qualified crew to operate the ship’s many systems. Included in the C303/S anti-torpedo countermeasure system are electronic warfare and decoy capabilities.
Six 533 mm torpedo tubes can hold 18 SUT torpedoes or SM.39 Exocet anti-ship missiles, are among the INS Vela’s powerful weapons. To demonstrate its flexibility and adaptability in various maritime situations, the submarine can also launch 30 mines in place of torpedoes. INS Vela is positioned as a potent asset in naval operations because of these specifications.