The Mauritius Coast Guard Service (MCGS) will shortly take delivery of its largest multi-role Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) Barracuda which began sailing home from the Indian manufacturer’s dockyard in the port of Kolkata earlier this month following its formal hand-over to Mauritius on 20 December last year.
On arrival, the vessel will be deployed to secure the island nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which is a key driver of the country’s steady economic growth and development. The Barracuda was built by Kolkata-based shipyard Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE). She set sail on February 8 and will be commissioned on March 12, the 47th Independence Day of Mauritius.
Speaking on the eve of the departure, GRSE managing director Retired Rear Admiral AK Verma said the vessel will give the Mauritius Coast Guard new operational capabilities in securing the EEZ.
“This model has been a pioneer in the production line, setting the trend for a new series of vessels that would be capable of multiple roles. GRSE is fully equipped to build many more variants of the Barracuda OPV which may be used by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard and other international customers,” Verma said.
The Barracuda is a 74m long vessel with a top speed of 22 knots and a displacement of 1 300 tonnes. The ship can also operate a single helicopter and carry a small detachment of troops. Additional capabilities include supporting troop landings in remote island territories.
The vessel’s crew of 62 is sailing under the command of an Indian Navy Commander, Rajneesh Kumar Dalal, who is on secondment to the Mauritian navy. Mauritian naval and aviation units aboard the ship have also been trained by the Indian Navy.
GRSE received the $58.5 million contract for the CGS Barracuda in March 2011. Her keel was laid in April 2013, with launch taking place that August. Successful sea trials were concluded in November 2014, when the vessel demonstrated a top speed of 22.5 knots (42 km/h) against the requirement of 20 knots (37 km/h).
The CGS Barracuda is based on the Kora class corvettes built for the Indian Navy by state-owned GRSE. Range is approximately 5 000 nautical miles at maximum speed. She is powered by two MTU 16V 4000 M53 diesel engines rated at 1 840 kW, each driving two controllable pitch propellers through ZF Marine gearboxes.
India and Mauritius have enjoyed good political, economic and military relations. Indian navy vessels often patrol Mauritian waters and India has provided military hardware to the country, such as an HAL Dhruv light utility helicopter and two Do 228 maritime surveillance aircraft.