An IDC Report 


New Delhi, 01 June 2005

Phase 1 of the Indian Navy’s spanking new naval base INS Kadamba, at Karwar just south of Goa, was commissioned by India’s Defence Minister Hon’ble Raksha Mantri Pranab Mukherjee on 31 May 05. Smt. Sonia Gandhi, the Chairperson of the ruling UPA government was also present on the historic occasion. The so called ‘Base Depot Ship’, will look after berthing and ship lift facilities and will add punch and power to the Indian Navy. It is expected to ultimately be able to berth the 44,000 ton INS Vikramaditya (Gorshkov) and Indian Navy’s 37,500 ton home built aircraft carrier, and relieve the congestion at the Navy’s base in Mumbai. The full achievement will be when the Navy releases some land for commercialisation and receives the proceeds.

Karwar will be the Indian Navy’s third major naval base after Mumbai and Visakhapatnam, from where it can locate and manoeuvre its operational fleets. In fact the need for a third naval base was realised as far back as1961 during the Goa Operation due to the vulnerability of the naval base at Mumbai to spy surveillance, and finally in the early 1980s, Karwar town on India’s west Coast was chosen to build the new naval base (through the untiring and single minded efforts of the then naval chief Admiral O S Dawson).

In 1985, the “Political Affairs Committee of the Cabinet  ” (CCPA) gave a “Go Ahead” sanction for setting up of a naval base at Karwar, code named Project Seabird at a cost of Rs.350 crores. The foundation stone for the project was laid by the then Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi, on 24 Oct 1986. In 1989, a consortium of consultants, which included M/s EIL Ltd, REDECON (Australia) and NEDECO (Netherlands).drew up a Master Plan.

The Master Plan envisaged infrastructure and facilities to be built in two phases, for basing of about 50 warships and associated yard craft. A detailed Project Report was prepared for in the early 1990’s Phase-I was approved infrastructure for basing 22 ships. However, the Project was delayed till 1995 due to a severe resource crunch and financial turbulence. In 1995, the government decided to implement ‘a truncated Phase I’ of Project Seabird for 10 warships and associated operational and administrative infrastructure to be executed in 10 years (i.e. by year 2005) at a completion cost of about Rs. 1290/- crores. In 2003, based on experience gained, advancement in the technology and changed political/strategic scenario certain facilities were upgraded/modified/added and a revised cost of the Project for about Rs. 2500 crores was approved.

Land Acquisition/Rehabilitation of Displaced Persons

The land required for execution of Project Seabird was approx. 4480 hectares, which was a mix of forest, revenue and private land. Over 4000 families living in 13 villages were required to be rehabilitated. The rehabilitation of the project affected families commenced in 1995 and this process went through various stages of negotiations, agitations, resistance, discussions and meetings with the involvement of local, state and national level political level leadership, including the High Court of Karnataka and National Human Rights Commission. Finally, at a meeting between the then Raksha Mantri and the CM of Karnataka in 1999, a comprehensive rehabilitation package was settled at a cost of Rs 126 crores as opposed to the original estimate of only Rs 9 crores. The actual work at site was to have been completed within 10 years (1995-2005), but could only commence in 2000 after the project affected families were rehabilitated in seven Rehabilitation Centers. The Project is being executed in a holistic manner with the involvement of all agencies.

The Apex Committee is headed by the RRM, and a Project Management Board chaired by the Defence Secretary, with the Vice Chief of Navy as the alternate Chairman. At the execution level is the Project Management Authority headed by a Director General. Project Seabird HQ are located at New Delhi and headed by Rear Admiral K Mohanrao, AVSM, VSM, the Director General, with a team of service and civilian officers from the Navy and Army. A Project Monitoring Team is located at Karwar under a Deputy Director General. The Project has employed professional consultants who monitor the work carried out by contractors of national and international repute.

Major Facilities –– Marine Works

The marine works mainly relate to the creation of a tranquil harbour, the dredging of the approach channel, anchorage area and the reclamation of 49 hectares of land. M/s NEDECO , Holland are the consultants and a consortium of three companies namely, M/s Larsen & Tubro (India) (L&T), M/s Hochtif (Germany) and Ballast Nadem Dredging (Holland) are the contractors for the construction of the harbour. The complete work including construction of  5.14 Kms of breakwaters was completed well ahead of schedule. The first Indian Naval ship entered the harbour on 14 Nov 2004. 

Berthing Facilities

This is being built by M/s Skanska Cementation (India) Ltd. under the supervision of M/s REDECON, Australia who is the consultant. The pier of 420m length has been completed and the firstnaval ship was brought alongside on Navy Day, 04 Dec 2004.  Shiplift - One of the unique features of Project seabird is Its Shiplift and Transfer System fordocking of the ships & submarines for repairs. The ship lift facility being installed by M/s Syncrolift Inc, USA is capable of handling ships up to 10,000 tons displacement and M/s REDECON Australia are the consultants. The facilities are nearly ready and trials are being scheduled in the near future. It is pertinent to note that a large number of Indian companies such as M/s L & T, BHEL, Shanti Gears, Coimbatore, General Engineering Works, Bangalore, etc. have been associated with M/s Syncrolift in construction and fabrication of the shiplift system, thereby ensuring not only indigenisation but also technology transfer and upgradation of Indian Industry. 

Onshore Facilities

Construction of onshore facilities include a Naval Ship Repair Yard (NSRY), hospital, Naval Store Depot, Weapon Equipment Depot, Transport Workshop/Pool, Naval armament depot, Missile Technical position, a Naval Area HQ Complex, logistics
complex and other administrative facilities such as officers and sailors residential colonies, secondary and primary schools, shopping centers, welfare centre, family clinic, ration issue stands, sailors institute  and cafeteria, bachelor officers and sailors accommodation and mess, Fleet Medical centre, etc.  M/s MECON, (a Govt. of India Undertaking) is consultant for all onshore infrastructure and the works are executed by reputed contractors like M/s L&T, Nagarjuna Construction Company, BHEL, M/s Bridge & Roof, M/s IVRCL Ltd, etc. Some of the residential complexes have already been built and naval personnel have moved in. Environmental Management - Project seabird fully complies with the existing environmental Policy of Govt. of India and the complete Environmental Management Plan was approved by Ministry of Forest & Environment. The arboriculture and forestation are professionally planned and executed. The sewage is fully treated according to the latest environmental laws and treated water is planned to be recycled for arboriculture.

Important Milestones


Initial Sanction



Foundation Stone Laying

24 Oct 1986 (By Shri Rajiv Gandhi)


Acquisition of Land



Master Plan & DPR

By 1990


Truncated Phase 1 Sanctioned

  Oct 1995


Execution of Project



Rehabilitation Phase 1 



Construction Commenced 



Priority Housing

Feb 2003


Breakwater Completed  

Feb 2004


Sailors Residential Colony

Jul 2004 


Anchorage Completed 

Nov 2004


Pier Completed

Feb 2005


Officers Colony at Kamath Bay

Feb 2004


Karwar Naval Hospital

Feb 2005 (Temporary location)


Ship Lift Installed

Apr 2005 (Trials & testing due)


Other Infrastructure

The other major infrastructure such as 100-bedded naval hospital, ship repair yard, logistics complexes, officers residential colony at Binaga Bay, officers mess, etc. would be progressively completed in the second half of 2005. A school under the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghatan would commence in the coming academic year and a KG school is also being planned to commence from this year. Some of the infrastructure that was added in the revised sanction in 2003, such as yard-crafts, civillian accommodation complex, etc. would be ready by end 2006.

The commissioning of Phase 1 of the Karwar naval project is a solid achievement of the country and we congratulate the Government, MOD, IN and all agencies associated with the project. The massive project involved practically building a new harbour, complex naval infrastructure and township from scratch.

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