Indian navy to deploy Russian nuclear submarine

Published on by AnshanJohn

Indian navy to deploy Russian nuclear submarine

INS Chakra in VishakhapatnamIndia has renamed the submarine the Chakra II

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India is to formally commission a nuclear submarine into its navy, joining an elite group of nations with similar capabilities.

The $1bn (£630m) Russian-built Nerpa has been leased by the Indian navy for the next 10 years. It was handed over to India in eastern Russia in January.

India previously had a Soviet submarine but decommissioned it in 1991.

It now rejoins China, Russia, the US, the UK and France as an operator of underwater nuclear vessels.

India is also developing its own nuclear-powered submarine which is expected to be ready by the end of this year.

'Pride of Indian navy'

The 8,140-tonne Akula II submarine, the K-152 Nerpa, has been renamed by India as the INS Chakra II.

The submarine will be formally commissioned into the navy by the country's Defence Minister, AK Antony, at a ceremony in Vishakhapatnam, on India's east coast off the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday morning.

The submarine set sail from the Russian port of Vladivostok 40 days ago and is now set to become the pride of the Indian navy, the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder reports from Vishakhapatnam.

AT THE SCENE

The massive sub is berthed at a jetty at the eastern naval command; the Indian flag at its nose.

The crew, dressed in navy blue overalls, are lined up on its deck. A naval band is playing next to it.

There's a visible sense of anticipation.

Significantly, the submarine will be deployed on India's east, and not west, coast which means China -not Pakistan - is the clear threat.

One naval officer told me that they are aware of the increased Chinese naval activity off Indian waters.

This then is India's first, small step to counter that.

In keeping with international non-proliferation treaties, the submarine will not be equipped with nuclear weapons. It will only carry cruise missiles.

India had previously leased a nuclear submarine from the Russians in the late 1980s which was used to train its naval personnel.

The INS Chakra will, however, be operational and is expected to give the Indian navy an added advantage, our correspondent says.

It was due to be handed over to Delhi in 2009 but was delayed because of problems during testing.

In November 2008, at least 20 people died in an accident on the Nerpa when a fire extinguishing system was activated by mistake.

India is also building an indigenous nuclear submarine, the Arihant, which is expected to join the navy some time next year.

Russia is also expected to help India train the Arihant's crew.

India and Russia are long-time allies and Russia supplies 70% of India's military hardware.

 

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