VISAKHAPATNAM: The veil was lifted off the country’s newly acquired stealthiest weapon, the nuclear-propelled attack submarine as India inducted the Russian-built INS Chakra into her naval fleet.Capable of cruising at high speed, remaining submerged for long, undetectable by enemy sonar and packed with potent firepower, Chakra makes India the sixth nation in the world capable of operating a nuclear submarine. The others are the US, UK, Russia, China and France.
The significance of this addition to India’s maritime prowess can be gauged from the fact that unlike conventional submarines that need to surface every day to recharge their batteries, Chakra did not surface even once during its two-month voyage from Russia to the eastern coast of India, navigating through the South China Sea in the process.“INS Chakra will increase our flexibility and capability immensely,” India’s Navy chief, Adm Nirmal Verma said during the induction ceremony here Wednesday.
Speaking at the induction ceremony, defence minister A K Antony said, “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 and credible naval presence in the region.” The nuclear submarine has sparked concerns about an arms race with Pakistan.
The defence minister brushed aside any such implications.
“India does not believe in arms race. We are not confrontationists but a peace-loving nation. I wish to strongly emphasise that our naval presence is not directed against any nation, but only to act as a stabilizing force and protect our strategic interests.” Roughly four times the size of the conventional submarines presently in the Indian Navy, Chakra is reputed to be one of the stealthiest and deadliest submarines in the world. Its induction underscores India’s ambition to mark a stronger presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and covert projection beyond India’s maritime borders.
INS Chakra has been bought on a 10-year lease from Russia in a $920 million deal that has been kept under wraps for years now.
The Defence Ministry does not publicly acknowledge the deal signed with Russia in January 2004. But it figured in the agenda of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his last Russia visit.
The Akula class nuclear submarine will be based at Visakhapatnam. The last sub the Indian Navy commissioned from the Soviet Union was also named INS Chakra.As per naval tradition, old ships don’t die or fade away.
They simply reincarnate themselves.
The nuclear reactor powering the submarine ensures that INS Chakra can do without refueling in its entire lifetime. However, what makes it different from conventional submarines is that its nearly 100 crew members have to wear a ‘dosey meter’ that monitors the radiation imbibed by their bodies.
The vessel will be primarily used to train Indian Navt personnel in operating a nuclear submarine as India will soon be inducting the indigenous vessel INS Arihant into the navy.