Nuclear submarine joins Indian fleet

India added a nuclear submarine on Wednesday when it inducts a new vessel leased from Russia.

Indian Defence Minister AK Antony is to formally commission the INS Chakra II at its base in Visakhapatnam, a navy shipyard on the country’s south east coast in the state of Andhra Pradesh.

The 8,140-tonne submarine, capable of firing a range of torpedoes as well as nuclear-tipped Granat cruise missiles, was offered by Moscow to India on a 10-year lease. The vessel has a maximum speed of 30 knots, can go up to 600 meters in water and has an endurance of 100 days with a crew of 73. It is armed with four 533mm torpedo tubes and four 650mm torpedo tubes.

The Akula II-class craft is the first nuclear-powered submarine to be operated by India since it decommissioned its last Soviet-built vessel in 1991.

“Our crews will get the experience of operating under water for several months at a go as unlike the conventional diesel electric submarines, which have to come to surface at regular intervals,” an unnamed navy official told PTI news agency.

India is currently completing the development of its own Arihant-class nuclear-powered submarine and INS Chakra II is expected to help crews train for the domestic boat’s introduction into service this year.

India signed up for the Russian submarine, formally known as Nerpa, in 2004 worth over $900 million and it was originally due to be handed over in 2009.

Russia supplies 70 per cent of India’s military hardware but New Delhi has been unhappy about delays to arms orders from Moscow and has looked to other suppliers including Israel and the United States in recent years.

Five other countries deploy nuclear-powered submarines, namely Britain, China, France, the United States and Russia.