Garden Reach still hopeful of Philippines' frigate project

Kolkata:India's Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE), which has been disqualified in the bidding process for two frigates for the Philippine navy, on Thursday expressed hope that the island nation will reconsider its decision following a regime change. One of the four shipbuilders in the fray for the project, GRSE had emerged as the lowest bidder. However, with their bids disqualified, three participants, including GRSE, had urged the Philippines' Department of National Defence (DND) to defer awarding the contract until President-elect Rodrigo R. Duterte assumed office. "Final decision regarding the contract has not been taken yet. There is a government change now...and we are still hopeful that order will come to us," GRSE Chairman and Managing Director Rear Admiral (Retd) A.K. Verma said during the launch of the Indian Navy's fourth Water Jet Fast Attack Craft here. (Duterte assumed office on Thursday.) GRSE, which became the first Indian shipbuilder to have exported a warship -- an offshore patrol vessel to Mauritius in 2014 -- has been keen on bagging the Philippines' frigate acquisition project. Verma said countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America have shown a keen interest in GRSE's ship-building capabilities and the shipyard was in talks with several nations for building warships. He also said the work on the three of the seven stealth frigates under "Project 17A" will begin by 2017. The Project 17A-class frigate is a follow-on of he Shivalik-class frigates.