The new defence wing of one of India's largest private sector firms has unveiled plans to build a sprawling shipyard on India's east coast to build nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers. Reliance Defence Ltd (part of the Reliance Anil Ambani Group) has entered into an MoU with the Andhra Pradesh government to build a facility that will be co-located with the Indian Navy's strategic base and BARC's nuclear facility at Rambilli, approximately 70 km south of Visakhapatnam, where the Indian Navy's Eastern Command Headquarters is also located.
A statement from the firm today said, "This facility will support the Indian Navy’s strategic projects and focus on building strategic submarines and aircraft carriers."
As part of the memorandum signed between Reliance and the Andhra Pradesh government, the latter will make 1,500 acres of land available for this facility in close proximity of strategic establishments of the Indian Navy and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC).
"Reliance will make an initial investment outlay of Rs 5,000 crore in this project. This will represent the single-largest investment at one location anywhere in Andhra Pradesh. This investment is expected to generate more than 10,000 new jobs and also lead to the creation of a multi-teier array of defence ancillaries, bringing in further investment of between Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 crore and thousands of additional skilled jobs," said the Reliance statement.
The new facility has been in the works for a while now, and part of the overall consolidation of India's shipyard infrastructure. Following Reliance's acquisition of the Pipavav shipyard on India's western coast, it was only a matter of time before the firm committed to greenfield shipbuilding capacity in the east.
The huge shipbuilding requirement stretched between a handful of state-owned shipbuilders wasn't going to cut it. The Reliance statement says it pretty plainly: "It is estimated that the Indian Navy will spend over Rs 3 lac crore over the next 15 years - or nearly Rs 20,000 crore per year - on acquisitions and fleet modernisation of submarines and aircraft carriers, over the next 15 years, creating a huge pipeline of opportunity for the proposed world class naval facility."
The Reliance-Pipavav shipyard and the new facility now pit Reliance in the same arena as another private sector behemoth L&T that has dominated strategic warship building work so far. Interesting times.