India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant is back in action after being crippled for the last several months following a major damage which resulted in water entering the warship’s propulsion chamber. Almost 10 months ago a possible human error led to water entering Ship Submersible Ballistic Nuclear (SSBN) INS Arihant’s propulsion chamber rendering it unfit to sail.
Navy officials say the accident took place when INS Arihant was reportedly at Vishakhapatnam harbour. The damaged pipes and other instruments were replaced to make the warship operational again. The incident came to light just a few weeks after the Navy admitted nuclear submarine INS Chakra’s SONAR, known as the eyes and ears of a submarine in the water, was damaged in early October 2016 after either hit something or while docking at Vishakhapatnam. INS Chakra, a nuclear-powered Akula II class Nerpa submarine, was taken on a 10-year lease from Russia in 2012.
INS Arihant was commissioned into Indian Navy in August 2016 and completed India’s nuclear triad. The submarine will carry either 12 nuclear-tipped 750-km range K-15 Sagarika short range Sea Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) or four 3500-km range K4 SLBMs, which can be fired from four vertical launch tubes. The 112-metre log, 6,000-tonne INS Arihant is powered by a 83 MW pressurised light water reactor and has been built under the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project at the Ship Building Centre in Visakhapatnam, one of the key bases of Indian Navy.
India joined a select group of five nations – USA, Russia, China, France and the UK – to build and operate a SSBN with the commissioning of INS Arihant. The second SSBN under ATV project, INS Aridhaman, is undergoing sea trials. The submarine will be commissioned into the Navy only by 2019 and its nuclear reactor will go critical only after sea trials.
India is already building two more SSBNs under the ATV project which have more advanced features and weapons systems giving the Navy blue water capabilities.