‘Midgets’ on navy mind

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By SUJAN DUTTA
  • Published 26.10.14
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New Delhi, Oct. 25: The defence ministry today ordered the building of midget submarines, also called “manned torpedoes”, a super-special project to deliver and recover commandos in twos and threes.

Going by the innocuous abbreviation SOB/SDV, which expands to “special operations boats/swimmer delivery vehicle”, the two midget submarines ordered to be built in an Indian shipyard have been approved for an initial cost of Rs 2,000 crore.

The navy projected a need for midget submarines, which weigh less than 150 tonnes, after the 26/11 attacks.

In a typical operation involving midgets, the commandos in it “swim out” of either a larger vessel (a ship or a larger submarine) or a berth at a coast, go underwater to the intended target, attach mines and return to base without giving up their location. Midget submarines are capable only of short-range operations.

The navy’s marine commandos (MARCOS) will be expected to be given the midgets, which are also called “Chariots”.

The decision to order the midgets marks the revival of a nearly 45-year-old project. A few were also acquired and based in Mumbai in 1975, a few years after Pakistan’s navy too acquired midgets from an Italian firm.