In what is a significant milestone, India’s first home-built nuclear submarine INS Arihant set out to sea on Monday for trials off Visakhapatnam coast. Navy sources said the beginning of trials coincided with the Vizag visit of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. But, they refused to comment on whether Parrikar flagged off the trials, saying that “ the project is controlled directly by the PMO and has nothing to do with Navy”. The sea trials will involve testing of the equipment on-board the submarine, most importantly the nuclear reactor. Following the trials, the vessel would be inducted into the Navy.
“This is a symbolic milestone for Indian shipbuilding given that this is the first indigenously developed nuclear platform that has entered sea,” a Navy official said. Navy sources said that in the case of INS Arihant, the trials may continue for “upto” two years “given the complexity of the platform”. Presently India has one nuclear submarine—INS Chakra—on lease from Russia. India, which intends to raise a fleet of 30 submarines by 2030, presently has few conventional submarines, following accidents on board Sindhurakshak and Sindhuratna.
INS Arihant was launched in July 2009 at Ship Building Centre, Visakhapatnam in presence of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Navy chief Admiral R K Dhowan had recently indicated that the trails would begin “soon”.
Arihant’s induction into the Navy is crucial for India to achieve the nuclear triad- the ability to launch nuclear warheads from land, sea and air.
Unlike conventional diesel electric submarines, which have to surface to recharge their batteries, nuclear submarines can remain under water for longer duration, thus boosting its stealth capabilities.
Notably, India is the only country apart from Russia, China, France, UK, US to develop and operate a nuclear submarine.