*By Anjali Ojha
New Delhi, Oct 18 (IANS) As the country gears up for the International Fleet Review (IFR), the Indian Navy is keen to ready the indigenous nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant before the event, scheduled for February 2016.
INS Arihant, a 6,000-tonne submarine is at present undergoing sea trials and is likely to soon undertake weapon’s trials.
While the navy is tightlipped on INS Arihant’s participation in the International Fleet Review (IFR), a senior officer, on condition of anonymity, told IANS that efforts are on to get the boat ready before the event.
The officer, however, added that there will be no compromise with trials as safety is the primary concern.
“We want the submarine to be ready before the IFR. But, at the same time, there cannot be any compromise in the trials. Safety is of paramount importance,” the officer said.
“If it passes through all the trials before February, there will be nothing like it,” he said.
INS Arihant is the lead ship of India’s Arihant-class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines that was launched in 2009.
While it was initially expected to go on sea trials by 2012, this happened only last December.
Although the trials have been going fine since then, no stone is being left unturned to ensure the vessel is fully battle-ready.
“The trials are so far totally smooth. But there is no scope for mistakes; so we can only try that the boat is ready by year-end,” the officer said.
Asked if INS Arihant will participate in the IFR, the navy chief, Admiral R.K. Dhowan, at a press conference this week, said this was not certain.
Once inducted, the submarine will help the country complete its nuclear triad, giving it the capability to respond to nuclear strikes from sea, land and air-based systems.
The project is being undertaken under the advanced technology vessel (ATV) programme under the supervision of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and involving agencies and establishments such as the DRDO, the Department of Atomic Energy and the Submarine Design Group of the Directorate of Naval Design, besides companies such as L&T.
Its design is based on the Russian Akula-1 class submarine and its 83MW pressurised water reactor has been built with significant Russian assistance.
While its 100-member crew has been trained by Russian specialists, Indian scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre have received significant expertise in reducing the size of the reactor to fit it into the submarine’s 10 metre diameter hull.
India currently operates the Russian-origin nuclear-powered submarine INS Chakra, which is on a 10-year lease since 2012.
Nuclear submarines have the capability to stay out in the sea for longer. Over 50 countries are expected to participate in the International Fleet Review to be held February 4-8, 2016. Some 90 ships are expected to participate in the review.
(Anjali Ojha can be contacted at [email protected])