Sindhukirti (S61): the ‘glory of the sea’ – exploring general characteristics and operational triumphs

The diesel-electric Sindhughosh class submarine INS Sindhukirti (S61), which was put into service on December 9, 1989, is an example of international cooperation. After undergoing a lengthy midlife repair at Hindustan Shipyard, weighing 2,300 tonnes on the surface and 3,100 tonnes below, it became known as the “dockyard queen.”

Proudly serving the Indian Navy, Sindhukirti (S61), rightly titled “Glory of the Sea,” is the seventh vessel of the Sindhughosh-class, a fleet of diesel-electric submarines. An example of international cooperation in naval power, the submarine was built at the esteemed Admiralty Shipyard and Sevmash in the Soviet Union.

When INS Sindhukirti was put into service on December 9, 1989, it was a key point in naval history. Cdr. Ramdas signed her commissioning orders during the Soviet Union commissioning ceremony. This marked the official launch of the submarine into active service, the end of its careful construction and the beginning of its dedicated service life.

General Characteristics:

The submarine INS Sindhukirti (S61) is a member of the Sindhughosh class and weighs 2,300 tonnes when surfaced and 3,100 tonnes while submerged. This submarine is robustly designed, measuring 72.6 metres in length, 9.9 metres in beam, and 6.6 metres in draught. With the help of its propulsion system, which includes two × 3,650 hp diesel-electric motors, one × 5,900 hp motor, two × 204 hp auxiliary motors, and one × 130 hp economical speed motor, it can reach underwater speeds of 19 knots and surface speeds of 11 knots. 

With a 6,000-mile pushing range at 7 knots and a 400-mile submerged range at 3 knots, the INS Sindhukirti is outfitted for long-duration missions. It can last an astounding forty-five days on end. The maximum depth of the submarine is 300 metres, although its operating depth is only 240 metres. It was completely refurbished at Hindustan Shipyard from June 2006 to May 2015, accommodating a crew of 68 people, including 7 officers.

The INS Sindhukirti is equipped with a wide range of weapons, such as a 9M36 Strela-3 (SA-N-8) surface-to-air missile launcher, Klub-S (3M-54E) anti-ship cruise missiles, Type 53-65 passive wake homing torpedoes, TEST 71/76 anti-submarine torpedoes, and the capacity to fit 24 DM-1 mines in place of torpedo tubes. With these weapons, it is an extremely useful tool for naval operations.

As a result of its powerful armament suite, vast operational capabilities, and innovative propulsion technology, the INS Sindhukirti is an essential part of India’s naval defence strategy.

Operational History:

In June 2006, Sindhukirti (S61) began a midlife renovation at Hindustan Shipyard, having been sent to Russia for modifications similar to those received by her sister ships Sindhughosh, Sindhuvir, Sindhuratna, and Sindhuvijay. 

Political differences did not stop the decision to upgrade indigenously, even if it went against the Navy staff’s wishes. The ten-year upgrade periods for the Vela-class submarines Vela and Vagli demonstrated the shipyard of choice, Hindustan Shipyard,’s track record of doing extensive submarine refits.

Significant upgrades, particularly the addition of Klub-S cruise missiles and USHUS sonar, were made to Sindhukirti during her midlife refurbishment. Additionally, several hull modifications were completed. The renovation, which was once scheduled to take three years, ran into problems and setbacks, which is how the ship got the nickname “dockyard queen.” Admiral Sureesh Mehta gave two reasons for the choice to carry out the upgrade locally in 2009: domestic testing of the capabilities and a lack of experience in India. “They have certain issues with their procurement procedures,” Mehta said, acknowledging the difficulties. A bit longer than anticipated, that is.

While Russian shipyards would use 200 workers spread across three shifts to finish a similar refurbishment in two years, Hindustan Shipyard took a more conservative approach, using only 50 people. The extended duration of the refurbishment turned into a significant feature of Sindhukirti’s operational past.

INS Sindhukirti was ultimately brought back into active service on May 23, 2015, following a lengthy nine-year maintenance period. The submarine resumed its function in the Indian Navy’s fleet, completing an important chapter in its operational history, despite the difficulties and delays encountered throughout the refurbishment process.