Navy plans to get undersea chariots, made in India, for special operations
Dec. 10, 2023

Why in news?

  • The Indian Navy is planning to acquire indigenously-made swimmer delivery vehicles — also known as underwater chariots and midget submarines.
  • This is part of efforts to modernise and strengthen the capabilities of its Marine Commandos (MARCOS) for special undersea operations.

What’s in today’s article?

  • Marine Commandos (MARCOS)
  • The chariots
  • News Summary

Marine Commandos (MARCOS)

  • About
    • It is a special operations force of the Indian Navy that conducts operations in air, water, and land.
    • MARCOS was founded in February 1987 and is also known as the Marine Commando Force (MCF).
      • MARCOS are modelled after the US Navy SEALs and the Royal Marines.
  • Function
    • MARCOS are trained to conduct the following operations:
      • Maritime and amphibious warfare
      • Counter-terrorism
      • Unconventional warfare
      • Rescue missions
      • Reconnaissance
      • Raids
      • Swift and stealthy response in denied territories

The chariots

  • About
    • The chariots are highly specialised platforms used by almost all advanced navies in the world.
    • These are self-propelled vehicles which can be launched from ships or submarines, depending on their size and the roles they are to perform.
    • In World War II, manned human torpedoes were referred to as chariots.
    • These chariots come in very handy if the Navy has to operate in shallow waters.
  • Function
    • They can be used for a range of missions which include shallow-water surveillance, attacking the adversary’s coastal installations, and even their ships in harbour.
    • The chariots allow marine commandos to access areas close to the adversary’s harbour – which submarines are not able to reach due to shallow waters.
    • These chariots aid transportation of weapons and equipment to areas of operations.
  • Use of chariots in India
    • Not much information is publicly available on the swimmer delivery vehicles currently used by the Navy.
    • Some sources point to the use of Italian-made chariots by the Navy for several years now.
    • Around 2012, the Ministry of Defence had asked Hindustan Shipyard Limited to build two of these submarines.

News Summary: Navy plans to get undersea chariots, made in India, for special operations

  • These chariots will be able to carry a crew of at least six and will be powered by lithium-ion batteries.
  • The size of these delivery vehicles will enable divers to carry bigger cylinders in the chariots.
    • This will let them stay underwater for longer hours. This, in turn, will enhance the overall operational range in shallow waters.
  • The size of the chariots will also permit carriage of additional weapons for various operations.