US senate clears transfer of two Osprey-class minehunters to India

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Wednesday, September 29, 2010

WASHINGTON - The US Senate has cleared the transfer of two Osprey-class minehunters to India on a grant basis to boost Indian Navy’s efforts to ramp up coastal security in the wake of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

The Senate Monday approved the transfer of Osprey class minehunter coastal ships Kingfisher (MHC-56) and Cormorant (MHC-57), decommissioned in 2007, under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.

Touted as the world’s second largest minehunters, surpassed only by the Royal Navy’s 60-metre Hunt class minehunters, the 56.5 metre Osprey class vessels are designed to find, classify, and destroy moored and bottom naval mines from vital waterways.

Constructed entirely of fibre-glass and designed to survive the shock of underwater explosions, they use sonar and video systems, cable cutters and a mine detonating device that can be released and detonated by remote control.

The Indian Navy, which presently deploys Czech-made Pondicherry and Mahe-class minesweepers, is highly deficient in this class of warships. It has been on the look out for such highly mobile coastal warships and minehunters and minesweepers since the 26/11 attacks.

The ships are equipped with a high definition, variable-depth sonar and a remotely-operated, robotic submarine used to neutralise mines.

The Osprey Class ships are the world’s largest Glass-Reinforced Plastic (GRP) ships and are the first US Navy ships designed solely for minehunting.

The platform has been designed with exceptionally low magnetic and acoustic signatures to protect against mine detonations during minehunting operations.

The computer-aided detection techniques include marking of mine-like sonar contacts with track buckets for further detailed search. Classification of targets is carried out using higher frequency narrow beam acoustics to provide high-resolution echo and shadow imagery.

Twelve minehunter ships were built for the US Navy by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (formerly Litton Avondale Industries) of New Orleans and Intermarine of Savannah. The ships were commissioned between 1993 and 1999 and decommissioned from the US Navy between 2006 and 2007.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at )

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