VESSEL REVIEW | Balraj & Balbir – Indian Navy tugs to perform ship assist and emergency response duties

Balbir (Photo: Indian Navy)

The Indian Navy recently took delivery of two new ship assist tugs from local state-owned enterprise Hindustan Shipyard (HSL).

Sister vessels INS Balraj and INS Balbir are the final two in a batch of four tugs that were ordered by the Indian Navy in February 2019 under a contract valued at approximately INR2.6 billion (US$34.13 million). The tugs will primarily be used to provide berthing/unberthing and manoeuvring assistance for submarines and larger surface ships such as aircraft carriers in confined waters and in harbour. Secondary duties will include providing afloat firefighting cover/assistance for ships alongside and at anchorage as well as limited search and rescue (SAR).

Balraj (Photo: Indian Navy)

Balraj and Balbir each have a displacement of 470 tonnes, a length of 34 metres, a beam of 11 metres, a draught of 4.49 metres, and a crew of 13. Two 600kW engines driving propellers will enable each tug to achieve a bollard pull of 50 tonnes and a speed of 12 knots at 85 per cent MCR. The vessels’ major and auxiliary equipment and systems were all built locally in line with the country’s Make in India initiative.

The design and construction of the tugs were done in accordance with Indian Register of Shipping (IRS) Steel ship rules to ensure a service life of 20 years. As the tugs were built under special survey by the IRS, they have been known alternatively in Indian Navy service as the IRS-class.

The two new tugs, along with earlier IRS-class sisters INS Veeran and INS Balram, will be stationed at Visakhapatnam, which will be the home of the future indigenously-built Indian Navy aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. After Vikrant is commissioned into service before the end of this year, all four tugs will provide ship handling support for the massive carrier within the base’s waters.

Click here for more news and gear stories, feature articles, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s focus on the tug and salvage sector.

Balraj & Balbir
Type of vessel:Harbour tugs
Classification:Indian Register of Shipping
Owner:Indian Navy
Builder:Hindustan Shipyard, India
Length overall:34 metres
Beam:11 metres
Draught:4.49 metres
Displacement:470 tonnes
Main engines:2 x 600 kW
Propulsion:2 x propellers
Maximum speed:12 knots
Bollard pull:50 tonnes

Baird Maritime

The best maritime site on the web. The sea's our scene!