The Indian Army has bought 17 flat bottomed boats, the majority of them to be deployed at the Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh for rapid deployment of troops in case of contingencies, ThePrint has learnt.
The development comes following the months-long standoff with China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) last year. While both India and China disengaged from the contentious Pangong Tso area in March this year — after multiple rounds of talks at the military and diplomatic level between the two countries — there has been no further breakthrough, with China refusing to pull back its troops from Hot Springs and Gogra Post.
According to top defence sources, the boats will be procured from Goa-based Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd, the shipyard that built the sailing vessel Thuriya on which Indian Navy’s Commander Abhilash Tomy embarked on the prestigious Golden Globe race from France in 2018.
Similar boats are already in service with the Indian Navy, the sources added.
The delivery of the first few boats has already begun and is set to be completed by September. A majority of them will be inducted in eastern Ladakh for now. The rest could be deployed at other locations, as and when required.
The boats, measuring 35 feet in length, will have the capacity to carry about 20-22 people, including crew. They can move at a speed of 20 knots, which is approximately 37 kmph. A source told ThePrint that while the boats have not been fitted with any weapons at present, they could be equipped with light weapons when needed in the future.
“Made of fibreglass, they would ferry troops across the lake, cutting short earlier time lost while navigating the hilly tracks around the lake,” the source added.