A Russian technical team is in Vizag for a joint investigation into the mysterious damage suffered by INS Chakra, the nuclear submarine leased to India in 2011, a diplomatic source has confirmed.
Details available from an official Indian inquiry show that the damage to the submarine is far bigger than what has been known in public. The sonar dome in the forward portion has suffered an almost five-feet by five-feet hole, according to reliable information from the Ministry of Defence sources. Two separate sources, from the Russian and Indian side, separately confirmed to The Hindu that the damage to the submarine was not very serious, and did not impact the nuclear reactor, because it was all contained to the outer hull.
The Russian team arrived in India after they refused to be satisfied with the findings of a three-member Indian team’s official inquiry. Sources said the team had placed the damage primarily on technical issues. There has been speculation that the damage was caused by a minor accident while INS Chakra was on the move.
Russia, which leased the submarine to India for a 10-year period in 2011 for over $600 million, sent a formal message a few days ago to New Delhi that it was not fully convinced with the Indian findings.
Russia then suggested that technical experts from their side be allowed access to examine the submarine which had been docked for the past several weeks in the submarine base INS Virbahu in Visakhapatnam.
Sources said the investigations by the joint team would be filed to both New Delhi and Moscow. For now, Russian sources indicate that the damage is not serious. “But we will have to wait for the final report before moving forward,” one Russian official said.
India is already engaged in negotiations for the second nuclear submarine from Russia, which could join service when INS Chakra returns after its 10-year lease.
Speculation on accident
There have been much speculation surrounding the accident suffered by the submarine, with some reports saying it may have met with an accident while negotiating the narrow channel to enter the harbour. The submarine had suffered a major accident in 2008, while undergoing sea trials.
The Akula class submarine is an SSN, and is to provide escort to INS Arihant, the indigenously constructed ballistic missile submarine that would carry nuclear missiles.