Russia will transfer the Akula-II class ‘Nerpa' nuclear attack submarine to India on a 10-year lease by the end of 2011, Russian Naval Chief Vladimir Vysotsky has said.

“There are no obstacles for the transfer of the submarine to the Indian Navy by the end of this year,” Admiral Vysotsky was quoted as saying by Interfax. He said the Indian crew had undergone the full course of training and the submarine was being prepared for delivery trials.

Under the lease contract, estimated to be between $650 million and $900 million, India had funded the completion of the Nerpa nuclear submarine at Amur Shipyard before the Soviet collapse.

The Nerpa was to be inducted into the Indian Navy like INS Chakra by mid-2008 but on November 8, 2008, shortly after the sea trials commenced, as many as 20 sailors and technical workers were killed onboard, while they were asleep, due to the release of toxic Freon gas following a technical problem in the automatic fire suppression system.

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