Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta on Thursday said the Indian Navy would soon be receiving a Russian nuclear submarine, even as the programme to build French Scorpene submarines here was running behind schedule.

Addressing a press conference ahead of his last day in office on Monday, Admiral Mehta said the country would soon complete negotiations over the price of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov (INS Vikramaditya) for possible delivery by 2012.

The arrival of the Gorshkov would augment the Navy’s quest to have three such warships in its fleet. Currently, it has INS Viraat, which has just undergone an extensive refit, and the third aircraft carrier is under construction at the Kochi shipyard.

Two more nuclear submarines

Admiral Mehta also said the project of building the country’s indigenous nuclear submarine, which was heralded with INS Arihant, envisages constructing two more nuclear powered submarines.

The INS Arihant was launched for sea trials last month, and Admiral Mehta said India would soon have the proven delivery capability that would make the adversary “face far more damage than they can bear.”

The Navy Chief distanced himself from a report quoting senior Defence scientist K. Santhanam that the 1998 nuclear tests by India did not yield the desired results, adding that the country’s nuclear deterrent capabilities were “proven and capable enough.”

“As far as we are concerned, we go by the views of the scientists. They have given us certain capability and that is capable enough to provide deterrence and they are proven,” he said in response to questions about the capabilities of the country’s nuclear arsenal.

Admiral Mehta denied that the Navy grounded the entire fleet of Sea Harriers after the recent crash. He said a board of inquiry had been constituted to probe the incident, and checks were taking place on the remainder of the fleet that would be flying soon.

“No overseas bases”

On Defence Minister A.K. Antony’s recent visit to the Maldives and reports of India setting up a base there, he said it was neither the policy nor the intention of the Government to set up naval bases overseas.

Reacting to his early comments on China’s naval dominance, Admiral Mehta clarified that while China is a power in the Indian Ocean region, he had never mentioned that its navy was more superior to India’s.

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