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PM to launch country’s first nuclear-powered submarine

Fri 09th Oct 2009 09:26 AM
PM to launch country’s first nuclear-powered submarine
PM to launch country’s first nuclear-powered submarine

Visakhapatnam July 25 :-

The long cherished desire of India possessing an indigenous nuclear submarine will finally materialise when Prime Minister Manmohan  Singh  will launch  the country’s  first nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant, on Sunday  (July 26), at Visakhapatnam.

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The project to build the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) is the effort of  three decades of planning and a decade of  dedication to complete the project. Five such submarines are to be built.

Still it  is not yet clear to which class this nuclear submarine belongs. The guess  that it would be a Yasen class Russian design has now  been replaced by recent speculation that describes it as belonging to the Antey (Nato’s Oscar) class.

Efforts to design a nuclear reactor for naval purposes started  in the 1970s and 1980s but nothing prominent  has come out of it. Then the authorities sought the  cooperation from the Russians. According to reports, the Russian design bureau Rubin helped to develop the submarine’s 190-megawatt Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR).  The contribution of Indian scientists to the ATV was  not much but quite significant in its own way.

The  idea of  building two Shchuka-B (Akula) class nuclear submarines in Russiain 2001  failed to click. In the following  year   2002, an Indian crew was trained in Russia to man nuclear-powered submarines.

In 1991  when the   lease of the Russian Charlie-I class nuclear submarine (INS Chakra) to India ended  then the  present ATV programme take the shape. Defence experts  are of the opinion  that the  ATV is almost a replica  of the newest Russian attack submarine of the Severodrinsk class.

The ATV will carry 16 Sagarika class cruise missiles.

Most nuclear submarine reactors of this variety use uranium as fuel enriched to 21 to 45 per cent. Refuelling may be done once in three or five years of active duty. The submarine needs to surface only for food supplies, crew replacement and maintenance.

Areas of  operation by  the Indian Navy  include  the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal. These waters include important Sea Lines of Communication Chokepoints (SLOC) like the Straits of Hormuz, Bar El Mandeb and the Malacca Straits.

With the launch of the Arihant, India will join the  elite  club of five countries that operate nuclear submarines: the US, Russia, the UK, France and China. This will add a very significant force multiplier factor to India’s warhead stockpile to counteract the counter-force potential of a hostile China.

It gives India a credible second strike capability to deter a pre-emptive strike. In fact, Chinese nuclear doctrine considers nuclear submarines very important for its strategic taskforce. Peng Shilu, the designer of China’s first naval nuclear reactor, has said that “in future the most critical naval asset will be the nuclear submarine”.

Richard Sharpe of Jane’s Fighting Ships, the very reputed military journal, commented that the ATV puts the Indian Navy in a different league. “You could call it the ace of spades in the pack of maritime capability,” he wrote.