PM’s wife to launch INS Arihant, India’s first nuclear submarine
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s wife Gursharan Kaur is to crack the auspicious coconut marking the historic launch of India’s first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine at the naval dockyard, Visakhapatnam on July 26. The launch, which naval tradition demands always be performed by a lady, is also the tenth anniversary of the conclusion of the Kargil War.
After spending over a decade cloaked under an obscure project name, the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) India’s first nuclear submarine finally gets a name: Arihant (destroyer of enemies), pulled out of a list with options like Astra. But more importantly, the Arihant propels India into an exclusive league of only five other nations who have designed and built their own nuclear-powered submarines. It also marks the first step towards the acquisition of the third leg of the nuclear triad— a secure underwater platform for launching nuclear weapons.
Based on the design of a Charlie-1 submarine which India leased from the former Soviet Union between 1987-’91, the submarine is currently housed in a completely-enclosed dry-dock called the Shipbuilding Centre (SBC) in Visakhapatnam. The launch, where the long, narrow dry dock is to be flooded with water from the harbor and the submarine floated out, is only the first step.
The Arihant is to be towed out of the SBC into an enclosed pier for its harbor trials. The trials will prove its nuclear powerplant and auxiliary systems before it heads out into the Bay of Bengal for sea trials and weapon trials of the 12 K-15 ballistic missiles it is armed with. It will take the submarine etween two and three years before commissioning.
In the meantime, the navy will get its first nuclear submarine, the Chakra, an Akula-2 class nuclear powered attack submarine currently undergoing sea trials in the Pacific Ocean off Vladivostok. The Chakra is to be commissioned later this year before sailing to Visakhapatnam. The submarine (known s the Nerpa in Russian service) is being acquired on a ten-year lease from Russia under a secret agreement signed in January 2004. India paid $ 650 million for the completion and lease of the submarine which is being acquired to rapidly train crews to man the fleet of three nuclear submarines which are to be inducted by 2015. Hull sections of two more ATVs have been completed by L&T at its Hazira facility and are to be transported to the SBC for assembling soon after the Arihant vacates dock space.