Project Seabird: Karwar’s naval infrastructure emerges as a strategic catalyst for national security and regional progress.

In a significant stride towards bolstering India’s maritime capabilities and fostering regional development, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is set to inaugurate two significant piers and seven residential towers at Naval Base Karwar on March 5, 2024.

The inauguration marks the culmination of Phase IIA of Project Seabird, a visionary endeavour to enhance naval infrastructure. Initially conceived in 2011, the project has been a testament to India’s commitment to maritime security. The strategic location of Naval Base Karwar plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the nation’s interests in the Arabian Sea.

Phase I of the project, which concluded successfully in 2011, was designed to accommodate 10 ships and included essential infrastructure such as a breakwater, a pier capable of berthing 10 ships, a 10,000-ton ship lift and dry berth, a Naval Ship Repair Yard, logistics and armament storage facilities, accommodation for 1000 personnel, a Headquarters/Depot Organisation, and a 141-bed Naval Hospital.

The Cabinet Committee on Security’s approval for Phase IIA marked a watershed moment, facilitating the berthing of 32 ships, submarines, and 23 Yardcraft. Complying with the latest environmental guidelines, the Phase IIA marine works boast piers to accommodate vessels and submarines, providing a berthing space of over 6 kilometres. These developments highlight an iconic Covered Dry Berth, standing tall at 75 meters, designed for simultaneous docking and comprehensive enclosed maintenance of up to four capital ships.

Not just a naval hub, Phase IIA also includes the construction of four townships with approximately 10,000 dwelling units, a Naval Air Station with a 2700m runway and civil enclave, offering air support to naval aircraft and facilitating commercial aviation flights.

The ongoing construction activities have created direct employment for about 7,000 personnel and spurred indirect employment opportunities, reaching approximately 20,000 jobs nationwide. Embracing the principles of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, over 90% of materials and equipment for the project have been sourced locally. Industry giants such as AECOM India Ltd., Larsen & Toubro, ITD Cementation India Ltd, Nagarjuna Construction Company, Navayuga Engineering Company Ltd., and Shapoorji Pallonji Group have played pivotal roles in the project execution.

The impact of these developments extends beyond national security. Once fully operational, Naval Base Karwar is expected to host an estimated 50,000 residents, significantly contributing to the local economy. Establishing the Naval Dockyard and maintenance facilities for ships is poised to catalyse industrial growth in the region, attracting investments and creating employment opportunities for the local community.

Moreover, the Naval Air Station, coupled with the Civil Enclave, is set to enhance air connectivity in the Uttar Karnataka region, fostering growth in tourism for both North Karnataka and South Goa. The base is projected to provide government employment to around 8,000 personnel upon full operationalisation, underscoring its multifaceted role in national security and regional development.