M A I N   N E W S

Navy inducts N-powered sub
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

Vishakapatnam, April 4
Adding lethality to its sea-based force, India today inducted Russian-made nuclear-powered submarine 'INS Chakra' into the Navy, joining an elite group of nations possessing sophisticated warships. Defence Minister AK Antony formally commissioned the Shchuka-B class Nerpa, rechristened INS Chakra, into the Navy at the Ship Building Complex here in Andhra Pradesh.

The submarine, leased for 10 years from Russia under $900-million contract, sailed for 40 days from the far eastern coast of Russia all the while remaining submerged, in what was a show of its endurance.

The 110-metre-long 8140-tonne (12,000 tonnes when submerged) undersea behemoth is of the Russian stock of Shchuka-B class of submarines. This particular one leased to India was named the K-152 Nerpa and was commissioned in 2009.

The submarine has specially designed propellers and casings to cut out engine noise from being picked by enemy ships, over-flying choppers or radars making it one of the stealthiest ‘hunter-killer’ submarines in the world.

The NATO list of codenames classifies it as “Akula”, meaning the black Shark. The Russians claim its noise levels are so low that it matches the leading submarines in the fleet of the US Navy. Under international obligations, Russia cannot transfer nuclear missiles with a leased submarine, but India can have its own fitments, if it has them.

With a maximum speed of 30 knots, the submarine can go up to a depth of 600 metres and has an endurance of 100 days with a crew of 73. The vessel is armed with four 533mm torpedo tubes and four 650mm torpedo tubes. India became the sixth nation on the globe to have a nuclear-powered submarine in its fleet after the US, UK, France, China and Russia.

India’s rival is Asia, China, has an estimated half a dozen nuclear submarines named the ‘Jin class”. China has so far refrained from supplying any such vessel to its ally Pakistan. It is after a gap of more than 21 years that India will operate a nuclear-powered submarine.

India had leased and operated a Charlie class Russian nuclear submarine in 1988 till 1991 for training its personnel on such submarines.

A nuclear-powered submarine is seen as a game changer due to its ability to remain under water. Diesel-electric powered submarines, which the Indian Navy uses, have to surface every 3-4 days to ‘breathe’. But, the INS Chakra can stay under water for 100 days.

In modern sea warfare, a submarine is easily detected when its surfaces to breathe.

For the crew, the submarine has a special safety feature called the ‘rescue sphere’ which will allow the entire crew to be seated in an enclosure before the rescue sphere detaches itself from the vessel to surface from under the sea.

Minutes after welcoming the submarine, Antony said India’s home built nuclear-powered submarine, the Arihant, will be ready for sea trials this year. The vessel was launched in July 2009.

adding lethality

  • The 110m-long 8140-tonne (12,000 tonnes when submerged) undersea behemoth belongs to the Russian stock of Shchuka-B class of submarines
  • The NATO list of code names classifies it as ‘Akula’, meaning the ‘Black Shark’
  • With a maximum speed of 30 knots, the submarine can go up to a depth of 600m and has an endurance of 100 days with a crew of 73





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