A floating behemoth that keeps A&N Command afloat

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  1. arnabmit

    arnabmit Homo Communis Indus Senior Member

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    A floating behemoth that keeps Andaman and Nicobar Command afloat - Times Of India

    PORT BLAIR: Less than 10 days from now, the Indian Navy will be celebrating the golden jubilee of INS Jarawa, the first ever naval base to have been set up at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A lot has changed over the last 50 years. The Andaman and Nicobar Command ( ANC) became the first integrated command in the country and the Navy's presence in the area has gone up manifold. But, there is one thing that has kept the Navy up and 'sailing' in this archipelago, nearly a thousand miles away from the mainland. Something of the size of Ex Milan may not have been possible had something known as the Floating Dock Navy (FDN) not existed close to the wharf at Port Blair.

    The FDN is a behemoth with a displacement equivalent to an aircraft carrier's. Its job is unique. It allows dry dock facilities to naval vessels in waters that are nearly 25 metres deep. Had this facility not existed, it may not have been possible for the Navy to station such a large number of vessels at the Andamans. It may have been a major risk for ships that suffer damages to get back to the mainland for necessary repairs.

    "We have a displacement of nearly 40,000 tonnes that is equivalent to that of an aircraft carrier. Our job is to prepare a ship for repairs. We bring out the ship from the water and clean it. There are other agencies that are involved with the actual repairs. Stringent checks are then carried out by external agencies before the ship is declared fit. We are held in place by 12 anchors. We can handle all kinds of naval vessels once we have the details and get time to prepare," said Cdre Deepak Bahuguna, officer-in-charge of the FDN that enjoys the status of a Naval Ship Repair Yard.

    The science behind its operations is unique. After necessary preparations, the ballast tanks at the bottom of the FDN are flooded and it gradually sinks to a certain level. The vessel that needs repairs then sails into the earmarked space in between. After the ship has been secured, the FDN empties its ballast tanks and rises. The ship rises along with it, till its bottom clears the surface of the water. The same procedure is followed when a ship has to be floated back after repairs.

    "The FDN is nearly 30 years old. We are not connected to the shore in any way and are self-sufficient. We generate our own electricity (through generators) and desalinate and purify our water for drinking. On days, we feed as many as 200 mouths on the FDN when a major job is in progress. We were here when the Tsunami struck nearly 10 years ago. Since then, we carry out regular exercises to prepare for any natural calamity including another tsunami. We have formulated our own Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)," Bahuguna said.

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