INS Dhruv: India’s Secret Missile Tracking Ship
Hello defence Lover! Recently India’s secret missile tracking ship, INS Dhruv or VC 11184 was commissioned into service. In this article, we are going to discuss INS Dhruv in details. We would try to analyse its capabilities and also try to understand why such ships are required.
What Are Missile Tracking Ships?
Before discussing INS Dhruv let us first understand what missile tracking ships are. Missile tracking ships are specially built vessels which are fitted with various types of powerfull radars and antennas along with variety of electronics. The main purpose of this ships is to track the launch of missiles and rockets. These ships are used both for civillian and military purposes. The civilian purpose of these ships is tracking the launches of rockets or launch vehicles used for launching satellites and other objects into space. The main miliatary purpose of these ships is to track any incoming missile, since many missiles such as the ICBMs are launched over very large distances, it is just not possible to track these incomming missiles from the shore based tracking facilities.
The concept of a missile tracking ship was first developed by the United States when it decided to fit its surplus cargo ship hulls that were left after the second world war, with radars to complement its missile programs. Over the years the United States built more than 25 such ships of which 5 are still active. The Soviet Navy also followed the concept as tracking ships became a necessity during the cold war as nuclear missile threat was evident. A few decades later the Chinese and the French also came up with their own missile tracking ships. Now with the commissioning of INS Druv India has become the fifth nation to operate such missile tracking ships. In some Navies, such a ship is also given the Type Designation “Vigilship” or “Veladora”, with the Designation Letter “V” or Letters “VC”. Indian Navy following the same convention had earlier named INS Dhruv as VC 11184.
Now we know what a missile tracking ship is, so let us discuss the capabilities of INS Dhruv in details. The requirement of such a missile tracking ship was felt long ago when India’s ballistic missile programme was initiated. However, it materialized only in 2014 when the keel of INS Dhruv was laid down. The ship’s construction took over 6 years. During its entire construction and trials, INS Dhruv was kept a secret as very little information about it was released in the public domain. The project was kept directly under the Prime Ministers Office. It is believed that the ship entered the service secretly in October 2020. The public commissioning ceremony was conducted in March 2021.
Talking about INS Dhruv’s technical specifications, it is 175 meters long and displaces 15000 tons. It is powered by two diesel engines in CODAD configuration each generating 9000KW. It also has three auxiliary generators with a capacity of 1200 KW each. These engines can propel INS Dhruv to a maximum speed of 21 knots and generate 15 MW of power to operate the radars and other electronic equipment onboard the ship. the primary sensor of the ship is a high power X band AESA radar. There is also a secondary S-band AESA radar. It has long decks with ample space to install several antennae. All these pieces of equipment along with the ship is operated by a 300 men crew. INS Dhruv is jointly operated by National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Navy. The cost of building this magnificent ship around ₹1,500 crores.
INS Dhruv will be instrumental in developing India’s strategic weapons and would also aid the Ballistic missile defence program. It has definitely increased India’s surveillance capabilities by many folds. INS Dhruv will act as India’s eyes in the ocean.