NEW DELHI: India joined an elite military club on Monday with its first nuclear ballistic missile submarine, the 6,000-tonne INS Arihant, completing its first “deterrence patrol.” This completes India’s nuclear triad by adding submarine strike capability to land- and air-based delivery platforms.
“Dhanteras gets even more special!” tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, after meeting the officers and crew of the submarine. “India’s pride, nuclear submarine INS Arihant successfully completed its first deterrence patrol! I congratulate all those involved, especially the crew of INS Arihant for this accomplishment, which will always be remembered in our history. Today is historic because it marks the completing of the successful establishment of the nuclear triad. India’s nuclear triad will be an important pillar of global peace and stability.”
The PM said, “In an era such as this, a credible nuclear deterrence is the need of the hour. The success of INS Arihant gives a fitting response to those who indulge in nuclear blackmail.” Stressing that “India is a land of peace,” he said, “Values of togetherness are enshrined in our culture. Peace is our strength, not our weakness. Our nuclear programme must be seen with regard to India’s efforts to further world peace and stability.”
India’s nuclear assets are handled by the Nuclear Command Authority, headed by the Prime Minister. The nuclear triad is critical for India’s no-first use policy, which means it will only use nuclear weapons in retaliation for a strike on India. While the Agni and Brahmos missiles, which can be launched from land or air, form the first two legs, nuclear-powered submarines armed with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles (SSBNs) form the triad’s most difficult-to-detect leg.
INS Arihant is the lead ship of India’s Arihant class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, and was built under the Advanced Technology Vessel project in Visakhapatnam. The submarines are similar to Russia’s Akula-class submarine, and Indian submariners have trained on the INS Chakra, an Akula-class submarine leased from Russia in 2012. Six of these ships are reported to be under construction.
Launched on July 26, 2009, the Arihant was commissioned in August 2016.
Success after a hiccup
In January 2018, there were reports that the Arihant had suffered major damage due to ‘’human error’’ and had not sailed for more than 10 months. Apparently, water had rushed in because a rear hatch had not been latched properly, causing severe damage to its propulsion compartment. After extensive repairs, it was sent out again for trials.