Karwar has National significance for Indian Government, in economic, military and tourism spears.
The Karwar port, is a important port of Karnataka, and generates significant revenues for the Government with sea trade. The recent, Project Seabird, has made Karwar very important, with India’s first major naval base that is exclusively controlled by the Navy. Further, with the second phase of expansion of INS Kadamba, the Karwar base aims to turn into the largest defence zone, not only in India, but in Asia. This naval base is turning India's maritime power into a force the enemy will think twice to reckon with.
Kaiga Atomic Power Station
Karwar has one of the county’s largest Nuclear Plant with the Kaiga Atomic Power Station, a nuclear power generating station situated at Kaiga, near the river Kali. It was established in May 5 2000, it has four units . The plant will supply electricity to India’s Southern States which comprises Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
Karwar port is located in Baithkol area of Karwar town on the edge of Karwar bay. The bay's mountain range opposite the port towards the Arabian Sea protects the ships berthed at the port from the sea waves, which makes Karwar among the best natural harbours in the world.
This all weather port is one of the main ports of Karnataka, serving the hinterland of northern Karnataka, Goa and southern Maharashtra. It is maintained and operated by the Government of Karnataka with all necessary facilities.
The port has 355-m-long quay for accommodating simultaneous berthing of two ocean going ships of 8.25 m draft with other facilities. The Union Government has declared this port for loading and unloading of all types of commodities, including class `B' and `C' petroleum products. This port exports granite, molasses, and alumina powder, and imports furnace oil, kerosene, and rock phosphate. It also imports salt from Gujarat. Various companies have constructed 25 liquid cargo storage tank terminals with an installed capacity of 75,000 tonnes of liquid cargo. The port handles nearly six lakh tonnes of cargo and earns Rs 6 crore revenue every year.
Karwar Naval Base - INS Kadamba
Bird's eye view of Project Seabird
Project Seabird project christened INS Kadamba after the famous 4th century dynasty, was commissioned on May 2005, completing the first phase of the project, which involved creating a exclusive naval only base near Karwar for movement, berthing and repair of naval ships, aircraft carriers, destroyers, stealth frigates and submarines.
The naval base is spread over 11,200 acres (4,480 hectares), encompass a 26-kilometre stretch along the high water line of the seafront from Karwar Head in the north, through the Baitkol, Kamath, Binaga, Kwada and Belekeri Bays.
The idea to have Karwar as a exclusive navel base was initiated by former Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Oscar Stanley Dawson as early as the 1980’s, however, the Government had legal and financial hassles in implementing the project immediately which resulted in starting the Project Seabird only in 1999, completing it at 2005.
India, is the 7th largest navy in the world, with major bases in Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, and Kochi, however, these ports were located within commercial ports which meant that other ships like fishing, and other merchant ships added traffic to the port making it inconvenient for movement, berthing of navy fleets. Surveillance, keeping track of ship identity for prevention of the possibility of foreign ships spying on Indian naval activity was an issue which was a major concern of the Government, for which Government wanted an all exclusive navy port, where free movement of navy vessels was possible.
Besides, this there was need of a port with sea which had a depth of at least 8 to 9 meters for berthing huge ships like aircraft carrier INS Viraat, which existing ports of Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Kochi could not provide. Navy was planning to berth aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov which is taken for refurnishing, and other navy fleets like the Russian built 4,000-tonne stealth frigates (INS Talwar and INS Trishul) for which a new port with enough depth was needed.
Karwar was most suited as a navel base – with its topography , the hilly forested terrain provides cover from surveillance satellites (infra-red decoys could further enhance security) and offers positions for defence posts. Besides, the water is deep and the depth is almost even, making berthing and navigation of ships easy. The need for dredging is minimal and tidal conditions are such that there is little scope for siltation.
The dream of building a blue water navy for navigating the world was perfect at Karwar, quoting Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Oscar Stanley Dawson the man behind this excellent idea – “No other place on the western or eastern seaboards is half as valuable as Karwar is. Half a mile into the sea, and the water depth is there. Besides, Karwar hilly terrain provides excellent camouflage to ground installations, and pens (enclosures) cut on the rock face can conceal submarines. The extent of the land available in and around Karwar will enable the Navy to disperse its forces, a crucial necessity in times of an attack."
Now, with the first phase of INS Kadamba over, it is recognized as the home port to the operational fleet of Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy.
The base accommodates an aircraft carrier, destroyers, stealth frigates and submarines. The main functions of the base include the maintenance, overhaul and repair of surface and submarine fleet. The base strengthens the capabilities of the Indian Navy on the west coast.
The 10,000t ship lift facility features a ship lift and ship transfer system.
The base's garrison facilities include a modern ship lift facility, harbor and anchorage, jetties, berthing facilities for 11 ships and a naval ship repair yard. The base also offers logistics to accommodate over 1,000 officers, sailors and families.
The 10,000t ship lift facility, measuring 175m in length and 28m in width, features a ship lift and ship transfer system that can lift all vessels of Indian Navy, except large tanker-sized vessels and aircraft carriers.
The ship lift provides 625m of berthing space to handle up to ten ships. The base is designed to accommodate 42 vessels when fully operational. It currently accommodates 11 vessels and will handle 22 ships following the completion of second phase development. The bays have adequate depth to allow large vessels such as aircraft carriers to enter and dock at the base.
An aerial view of the naval jetty and ship lift facility at the base.
The second phase of work for expanding INS Kadamba, involves expansion of berthing facilities to accommodate 22 ships, it would also include a new naval air station, a naval research institute, a transmission station, a naval weapon yard. The new naval air station will comprise a 6,000ft runway. The state government of Karnataka and the Airports Authority of India are in discussions with the Ministry of Defence to plan for an international airport, to operate civilian commercial Airbus 320 flights and Karwar in the near future may get a airport for tourists to use.
However, the navy opens its portals for one and all during the Navy Week in December and for educational institutions and groups visiting the base