PM to launch indigenous nuke submarine by month-end
New Delhi: In what will mark a quantum leap for India's shipbuilding capabilities, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will launch the country's first indigenously designed and built nuclear-powered attack submarine at a quiet function at Visakhapatnam by the month-end but it could be a while before the vessel is commissioned, an official said.
"The construction work is complete and the submarine will be formally launched into the water by the Prime minister," the official said, adding the function will be attended by Defence Minister A.K. Antony.
The likely launch date is July 26, which is annually commemorated as Kargil Victory Day to mark the Indian Army's success against Pakistani intruders who had occupied the area in Jammu and Kashmir in 1999.
The submarine will be commissioned in the Indian Navy as INS Arihant, which translates as "destroyer of enemies", after extensive outfitting and sea trial. It is the first of three such vessels to be constructed in the country. Hitherto, submarines have been constructed here under licence from their foreign designers.
The submarine is currently housed in a dry dock, which will be flooded with sea water to mark the launching ceremony.
Earlier this year, Antony had lifted the cloak from India's secret submarine project, saying: "Things (the project) are in the final stage. Some years back, there were some bottlenecks in terms of supply of parts. It is over now. We will announce it (the vessel's launch) whenever it is ready.
The construction of the advanced technology vessel (ATV), as the project is designated, is in line with India's nuclear doctrine enunciated in 1999 that calls for its nuclear forces to be effective, enduring, diverse, flexible, and responsive to the requirements in accordance with the concept of credible minimum deterrence. The doctrine calls for high survivability against surprise attacks and for rapid punitive response.
A nuclear submarine, which can remain submerged for prolonged periods of time and is virtually undetectable underwater, therefore, meets all these criteria and offers an invaluable launch platform for nuclear weapons, the doctrine says.
It is the world's most powerful deterrent force - a stealthy undersea platform with enormous nuclear firepower. For a country like India with a no-first use policy, it is vital because it prevents a potential adversary from launching a crippling first-strike to knock out all nuclear weapons, the doctrine says.
The Indian Navy will also get a Russian-built Akula class nuclear submarine, to be commissioned as INS Chakra, by the year-end. Currently undergoing sea-trials, the delivery date for the Russian submarine was pushed back following an accident on board. The navy will use the submarine to train its crew in handling nuclear-powered vessels.
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