VISAKHAPATNAM: In a big boost to its underwater strike prowess, the Indian Navy on Wednesday inducted nuclear-powered attack submarine INS Chakra in its fleet. A lethal, stealthiest and ultimate weapon, the high-speed Russian-built submarine is capable of remaining submerged infinitely so as to hoodwink the enemy sonars. Packed with potent firepower, Chakra has made India the sixth nation in the world capable of operating a nuclear submarine — the US, UK, Russia, China and France being the other five. Unlike the conventional submarines that need to surface daily to recharge their batteries, Chakra never had to surface even once during its two-month-long voyage from Russia to the eastern coast of India. INS Ranjit was sailing along with the submarine to bring it home.
“INS Chakra will increase our flexibility and capability immensely,” Indian Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said during the induction ceremony.
Roughly four times the size of the conventional submarines in the Indian Navy, Chakra is considered one of the deadliest submarines in the world. The induction underlined India’s ambition to mark a stronger presence in the Indian Ocean Region and covert projection beyond India’s maritime borders.
“As peace and stability in the region are crucial to peace in the world at large, it is imperative that the Indian Navy maintains a strong, stabilising and credible naval presence in the region,” said Defence Minister A K Antony, while inducting the submarine. The Pakistan naval chief has already raised concerns of arms race over the nuclear submarine induction. But the Defence Minister sought to brush aside any such implications. “We are not confrontationists. We are peace-loving nation... I wish to strongly emphasise that our naval presence is not at all directed against any nation, but it will only act as a stabilising force and protect our strategic interests,” Antony said.
INS Chakra has been bought on a 10-year lease from Russia in a $920-million deal, which has been under wraps for years now.
The Defence Ministry did not publicly acknowledge the deal, signed with Russia in January 2004, for quite a long time. But, it figured in the agenda of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his last Russia visit. The submarine construction was nearly 86 per cent complete in the Amur Shipyard in 1991 when the Soviet Union disintegrated, leaving the facility cash-strapped. Over a decade later, India agreed to provide the necessary funding in lieu of a 10-year lease of the vessel.
The Akula class Nerpa nuclear submarine, rechristened INS Chakra after Lord Krishna’s invincible weapon Sudarshan Chakra, will be based in Visakhapatnam on the eastern coast. The vessel would be primarily used to train Indian sailors to operate nuclear submarines.