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N-power for Navy
India launches INS Arihant, joins elite club of nuclear nations
Ajay Banerjee and Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Visakhapatnam/Hyderabad, July 26
Just after noon today Gursharan Kaur, wife of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, launched the first indigenously built nuclear submarine INS Arihant and sent it out to water. As the 110-metre-long submarine moved out of the docks, it caused a gentle ripple in the Bay of Bengal but it is expected to generate a “wave” of strategic signals as India entered the exclusive club of nations that have the capability to build nuclear submarines.

The 5,500 tonne vessel, with a range of 750 km, will become operational within two years after sea trials. With this, India has become the only country in the Indian Ocean region to have nuclear submarine.

Two more indigenous nuclear submarines are under construction and are slated to be inducted by 2015. The three will cost about Rs 30,000 crore. Another nuclear submarine, the Akula class ‘Nerpa’, is to arrive on 10-year lease from Russia this winter. So far, only the US, Russia, France, UK and China have nuclear-submarine capabilities. India operated a nuclear submarine on lease from Russia between 1988 and 1991.

Speaking in Hindi, Gursharan Kaur christened the submarine “Arihant” and wished luck to the crew. Before that she had broken a customary coconut on the hull of the submarine. All ships are traditionally launched by women.

It took more than 25 years for it to come into existence since the submarine was planned. In between, India faced sanctions and was even denied technology but it carried on. The actual project commenced in January 1998 when the first steel was cut at a secret ceremony. The submarine will be tested for all equipment on board before it joins the Naval fleet in about two years from now. Till today, the project was code-named the “advanced technology vessel” and the government had been denying its existence altogether. At the launch ceremony, the Prime Minister expressed pride at the progress while he articulated a “deep appreciation for the Russians for their help”. India has to operate at the cutting edge of technology, he added.

The submarine has a diameter of 11 meters and displacement of 6,000 tonnes. It has the latest sensors, anti-ship missiles besides strategic (nuclear-tipped) missiles. The K 15 nuclear missile, Shaurya, that can fire some 700 km, has been tested by the DRDO using a canister to mimic an under-sea launch. With this, India will complete its nuclear triad. India already has land- based and air-borne nuclear capabilities.

Unlike diesel-electric powered submarines that have to surface every 48 hours or so to “breathe”, a nuclear- powered submarine can remain submerged for longer periods, enabling it to hide.

The Director-General of the ATV project, Vice-Admiral DSP Verma (retd) told The Tribune that the submarine could remain submerged for prolonged periods. It would depend upon human endurance to stay under water. Each nation has its own parameters. Sources said it was up to two weeks that troops could stay under water.

At present, United States, Russia, France, Britain and China possess capabilities to develop nuclear submarine. By proving its indigenous capability to build nuclear-powered submarine, India has now completed its “nuclear triad” (land, air and sea) capability and strengthened its strategic deterrence.

The vessel is critical for India's nuclear doctrine that calls for high survivability against surprise attacks and for rapid punitive response. A nuclear submarine can be counter in case an enemy launched a crippling strike on land-based or air-based nuclear weapons.

The Defence Minister, AK Antony, elucidated its importance, saying India has no-first-strike policy hence a submarine will be even more critical to launch a second strike to safeguard national interest.

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Submerged Slayer

  • India is the sixth country after the US, Russia, France, UK and China to have N-submarine capability.
  • Built at a cost of $2.9 billion, INS Arihant can fire missiles from under the sea and can lurk in ocean depths of half a km and more.
  • Is powered by an 85-MW capacity nuclear reactor and can acquire surface speeds of 22 to 28 kmph and submerged speed up to 44 kmph.
  • Will be carrying a crew of 95 and will be armed with torpedoes and missiles, including 12 ballistic missiles.

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We’ve no aggressive designs: PM
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Visakhapatnam, July 26
Exactly 10 years after the Indian armed forces defeated Pakistan during the Kargil conflict, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent out a strong signal to the global community. He not only chose the Vijay Diwas (July 26 is the day Kargil was won) to launch the first indigenously made nuclear submarine by India, he also made it clear that the government was fully committed to ensure defence of national interests and protect the territorial integrity.

The Prime Minister, in a statement to suppress any fears that may emerge due to the launch of the nuclear submarine said “we do not have any aggressive designs, nor do we seek to threaten anyone… Nevertheless it is incumbent upon us to take all measures necessary to safeguard our country and keep pace with technological advancements worldwide”.

Though the Prime Minister did not speak to the media, National Security Adviser MK Narayanan, replying to queries from reporters, said “both Kargil and the nuclear submarine are successes for us”. The obvious message was to former Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf who in a recent TV interview had claimed that Kargil was success for Pakistan.

Earlier the PM, in his brief speech at the pre-launch ceremony, had said the government would continue to support constant modernisation of the armed forces. During his first tenure as the PM, Manmohan Singh had constantly monitored the nuclear-submarine programme and ensured flow of funds.

He added that the sea was increasingly becoming relevant in the context of India’s security needs and “we must re-adjust our military preparedness”. Our Navy has a huge responsibility.

Days after meeting US secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he did not forget Russia and said their cooperation was “invaluable” and it symbolised close strategic partnership that they enjoyed with Russia. Defence Minister AK Antony had earlier said that the nuclear submarine was the first step in strategic development.

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