GRSE looking forward to engaging countries in eastern and western worlds: GRSE chairman

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Kolkata, Nov 3 (PTI) Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd (GRSE) is looking at engaging customers both in the eastern and western worlds to export and manufacture defence platforms, its chairman Rear Admiral V K Saxena said.

The defence PSU will play a very crucial role in the country's defence export target of five billion dollars by 2024-25, Saxena told PTI in an interview.

GRSE, which has a strong order book of Rs 26,544 crore from Indian Navy and Coast Guard, is in talks with countries like Philippines in the east and some in the western region as well, he said.

'GRSE is working very hard towards the export initiative. You might hear some good news in the next few months in regards to the export as indications are very positive', Saxena said.

'We are in conversation and interactions through our missions in Philippines and other countries on the eastern side. We are also engaged on the western side,' he said but declined to elaborate either about the countries or the projects.

Asked about possible collaborations with Bangladesh, he said GRSE is hopeful of getting contracts of making bailey bridges for its army.

'We already have an MOU with Khulna shipyard, where there is a possibility of working together. We are also in touch through our high commission there ... We may get some orders of bailey bridges for the Bangladesh army. There are some platforms on which they (Bangladesh) have shown interests,' he said.

On the ongoing projects of GRSE, Saxena said the warship maker has three major contracts and a strong order book of Rs 26,455 crore.

'In case we have orders from Navy or Coast Guard the order book is going to get stronger,' he said.

The three major ongoing contracts of GRSE consist of three P17A stealth frigates, four survey vessels (large), eight anti-submarine warfare shallow water crafts. The GRSE will be delivering the last in the series of landing craft utility(LCU) L-58 by the year end which is on trial mode now, Saxena said.

GRSE has reported a 48 per cent increase in net profit to Rs 49.69 crore during the quarter ended March 2020, despite a fall in its income in the period, he said.

On the modernisation of GRSE Saxena said apart from stressing on research and design, the company is also planning to increase it's building capacity to 24 ships from 20 ships.

'Presently we can build 20 ships concurrently, eight large and 12 medium ships. We want to increase the capacity to 24 ships in three-four years,' he said.

Speaking on the MoU with Elbit Systems of Israel to manufacture multi-role unmanned surface vessels (USV) which can offer an interim solution to Navy's shortage of mine sweepeers, Saxena said the Request for Information (RFI) was responded to by the Indian Navy and GRSE is waiting for Request for Proposal from it.

USV is capable of detecting and neutralsing naval mines, he said adding, 'We are hopeful of getting some contracts from the Navy in the future'.

On P17A stealth frigates manufactured by GRSE, Saxena said once inducted it is going to be the most potent frontline warship of the Indian Navy as the Brahmos missile system can be fitted into it.

Saxena said that the lockdown has impacted the production of GRSE as the sector is workforce intensive.

The company has taken steps as per the COVID-19 protocol and has adopted techniques to keep up with the production while keeping the pandemic at bay, he added. PTI PNT KK KK KK