The Indian frigate Tarkash in an international exercise with the French navy on May 11, 2017. India has ordered more ships to boost its naval presence in the Indian Ocean. Photo: AFP/Fred Tanneau

India’s Ministry of Defense has awarded a contract worth about US$350 million for the construction of four survey vessels for the country’s navy, Russian website Sputnik News reported on October 31.

In the past couple of years, India has launched several naval survey ships with defense applications to monitor Chinese vessels in the Indian Ocean.

The 110-meter vessels that are going to be built will have a deep displacement of 3,300 tons and be equipped with advanced hydrographic equipment and sensors as well as being able to accommodate one light helicopter, the Indian defense ministry said in a statement quoted by Sputnik.

The state-owned Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) has been awarded the contract and will deliver the vessels by 2023. GRSE is also handling another major project which entails construction of Shivalik-class frigates for the Indian Navy.

So far, the GRSE has built 98 warships ranging from guided-missile frigates and anti-submarine warfare corvettes to tankers and fast patrol vessels.

GRSE, one of India’s leading shipyards, is based in Kolkata and has also started building ships for export to expand its business. In 2014, it delivered a corvette to Mauritius and has been short-listed for a patrol boat project in Vietnam and also hopes to be granted contracts to build patrol boats for the Philippines.

But the emphasis will be on supplying the Indian Navy with vessels to enable it to counter China’s increasing assertiveness in the Indian Ocean.