Undeterred by Mumbai tragedy, India to go ahead with Arihant sea trial
By Hemant Kumar Rout | ENS | Published: 18th August 2013 01:52 PM |
Notwithstanding the tragedy of Russia-made Indian Navy’s submarine INS Sindhurakshak following explosions in the vessel at the Mumbai dockyard leading to death of its crew members, India is set to go ahead with the proposed sea trials of its indigenously built first nuke-powered submarine INS Arihant as scheduled.
Built under the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project at the ship building centre in Visakhapatnam, the 6,000 tonne Arihant (means destroyer of enemies) was first launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's wife Gursharan Kaur at the Navy’s dockyard in Vizag on July 26, 2009.
The ship submersible ballistic, nuclear (SSBN) submarine is expected to commence its sea trials soon. A defence spokesperson said though no particular date had been fixed for the submarine to start its sea trails, the programme was on schedule. “The vessel is expected to complete its sea trials in next 18 months before it is made completely operational and inducted in the Navy,” he informed.
DRDO’s Directorate of Public Interface Director Ravi Kumar Gupta told ‘The Express’ that the two submarines were handled by separate groups. “While Sindhurakshak was diesel-electric powered, Arihant is nuclear powered. Arihant is our own project. The mishap has nothing to do with the future missions,” he confirmed.
With its atomic reactor going critical in the wee hour on August 10, Arihant made India one of six countries in the world with the ability to design, build, and operate its own nuclear-powered submarines armed with nuke-tipped weapons. Apart from India, the US, UK, Russia, China and France have this capability.
The 111-metre-long, 15-meter tall and 11-metre broad INS Arihant has four vertical launch tubes, which are capable of carrying 6 torpedoes of 533 mm and 12 B-05 (K-15) missiles or 4 K-4 missiles. Having a 100-member crew, the advanced vessel is powered by an 83 MW pressurised light-water reactor with enriched uranium fuel.
So far, India has only 14 conventional submarines, including four Shishumar class from Germany and ten Sindhughosh class (Kilo class) from Russia that are diesel-electric powered besides one nuclear-powered Akula class submarine INS Chakra taken on a 10-year lease from Russia.
A DRDO official said there should not be any delay in making Arihant operational. “As the conventional subs are aging, India needs to keep its own submarines ready. After the tragedy it is unlikely that Sindhurakashak could be returned to service,” he said.
Defence scientists and naval officials are eagerly waiting for the successful sea trials of the submarine followed by the maiden launch of B-05 missile from the vessel as it would strengthen the country's endeavor to build a credible nuclear triad.
Sources added four more Arihant class nuke-powered submarines were being built under the country’s secret project while six diesel-electric powered Scorpene class submarines had been ordered from France.