Adding much-needed teeth to its Eastern Fleet that patrols some of the worlds most sensitive waters,the Navy on Wednesday formally inducted INS Chakra,a stealth nuclear-powered submarine acquired from Russia on a 10-year lease.
The Akula II class attack submarine,one of the stealthiest in the world,is the second nuclear-powered boat with the Navy after the Charlie class submarine also named Chakra leased from Russia for three years in 1988.
The induction of Chakra,earlier called Nerpa and commissioned in January at the Russian port of Primorye,has taken India into a select club of six nations the others are US,UK,Russia,France and China that operate such vessels.
The capability to stay under water almost indefinitely – this capability,of course,is limited by the fact that the crew cant remain underwater beyond a certain time makes Chakra a killer boat designed to silently patrol,lie in wait for and sink enemy ships. Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said the boat remained submerged during its entire 40-day journey from Russia to India.
Chakra can also attack shore-based facilities with an array of tactical missiles it,however,does not carry nuclear weapons on board. The boat is powered by a 190 MW nuclear reactor and with a displacement of 12,000 tons,it can sail at over 30 knots.
The submarine is manned by 80 crew members. Chakra is equipped with an array of tactical missiles,cutting edge fire control systems,sonars,contemporary optronic periscopes and surveillance systems, the Navy said. Admiral Verma said the boat will increase the operational flexibility of the Navy.
Defence Minister A K Antony,who inducted the submarine,said it was not intended to counter China but was meant to augment the capabilities of the Navy to operate as a stabilising power in the region. I wish to strongly emphasise that our naval presence is not at all directed against any nation,but only to act as a stabilising force and protect our strategic interests, he said.
The boat will also be used as a training platform by the Navy,which is set to induct several indigenous submarines over the next few years. The first among these,INS Arihant missile boat which,unlike the Chakra will carry nuclear weapons is set to undergo sea trials this year.
The boat was originally scheduled for delivery in 2008 but a November 2008 accident that killed 21 sailors on board delayed it. The price has not been disclosed but the boat is estimated to have leased for around $ 1 billion.