Environment clearance to Navy’s Project Seabird (Karwar naval base)

The new Government of India has given environmental clearance to Indian Navy’s ambitious naval infrastructure project — Seabird in Karwar (Phase-II).

Project Seabird (Karwar naval base)

The Western Fleet of Indian Navy in Mumbai faced security challenges during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 due to congestion in the shipping lanes from commercial shipping traffic, fishing boats and tourists. To address these concerns several options were mulled over after the war. ​ ​

Alternative locations for a base on the west coast were considered, including Thiruvananthapuram, Kannur and Thoothukudi. In the early 1980s, then Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Oscar Stanley Dawson proposed a dedicated naval base between the hills of the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea near Karwar in Karnataka state.

Advantages of Karwar (Karnataka) as Naval Base:

  1. Located south of the naval bases in Mumbai and Goa and north of Kochi and is very close to the world’s busiest shipping route between the Persian Gulf and east Asia and beyond the range of most strike aircraft from neighboring countries.
  2. It has a natural deep-water harbour and considerable land area for expansion to accommodate larger aircraft carriers.

However, due to a variety of reasons, including the 1991 economic crisis, development of the base was delayed.Following Pokhran-II in 1999, then Defence Minister George Fernandes approved Project Seabird to move forward with the construction of the new naval base at Karwar. Contracts were awarded to Larsen & Toubro as the lead contractor for the marine works on the harbour, in partnership with Hochtief, Ballast Nadem Dredging of the Netherlands, Radisson of Australia and Nedeco of The Netherland.

Over 5 km of breakwater were built using over 4.4 million cubic meters of rock to protect the harbour. To provide berth to even larger aircraft carriers, the Binaga Bay was dredged and its rock outcrops blasted. Anjadip Island is one of the two islands to which the breakwaters are linked for reinforcement. A second channel will be added to the base to allow warships to enter and exit the port at the same time.

The Karwar base will be one of the largest naval bases of India and will be executed in two phases. It will house various warships including India’s largest warship and aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya. INS Kadamba is an Indian Navy base situated near Karwar in Karnataka.

The phase I of the base, known as Project Seabird, was completed in 2005 and the base was commissioned on May 31, 2005.​

The phase II of the project began in 2011. At present, INS Kadamba is the third largest Indian naval base, and is expected to become the largest naval base in the eastern hemisphere after completion of expansion Phase IIB.

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