India’s first indigenously built nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, INS Arihant would be going to sea trials within “a few weeks or months” as its preliminary harbour acceptance trials are over and various systems, including nuclear propulsion, have proceeded satisfactorily and as per the time schedule.

The submarine would undergo sea trials, during which all the systems, including its ballistic missiles, would be tested before it is finally commissioned into the Indian Navy, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff Rear Admiral L.V.S. Babu, said here on Tuesday.

Incidentally, INS Arihant, which is the lead ship of India's Arihant-class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, would also figure on the Indian Navy tableaux at this year’s Republic Day Parade.

The sub-surface ballistic nuclear missile (SSBN) submarine would be “indigenously designed, built, operationalised and maintained,” said Rear Admiral Babu, adding that “there were no hiccups in the progress of harbour trials” at Vishakhapatnam. Once the sea trials, which would test the capability of various systems in real deep sea scenario, are over the Navy would announce its arrival, he said, as it would be a “stabilising force in the Indian Ocean”.

Stating that “it is a fact that we (Indian Navy) would like to have more submarines”, the Rear Admiral denied that clearance for three SSBNs has been obtained. “That is our wish, it has not been cleared,” he said, adding that finance and infrastructure were major considerations.

He also made a mention of the Scorpene submarines, being developed at the Mazagaon docks, and said these are scheduled to be inducted from 2016. “We would be looking at inducting one submarine per year till we have six of them in the fleet.”

Desilting on at Mumbai harbour

The ACNS also spoke about another submarine INS Sindhughosh running aground at the Mumbai harbour. “There is a big problem of silt at the harbour and due to it the time window for entry of submarines and other boats has reduced. While the submarine was entering the harbour, the water level receded and to prevent any damage to the bottom of the vessel it was stopped. Later it was tugged and put into its position.”

Admiral Babu said the dredging of the harbour had been initiated about a month ago and it is likely to improve the situation at the harbour soon.

Salvage of INS Sindhurakshak

The harbour had witnessed the sinking of another submarine INS Sindhurakshak following multiple explosions last August. Rear Admiral Babu said the salvage operations for recovering the submarine are expected to start very soon. “The vendor has been identified and the contract finalised. It only needs to the signed and the financial aspects are being worked out.”

The vendor, the Rear Admiral said, would take about 45 days to “mobilise equipment” which would mean installing the cranes, heavy lift barges and tugs. “It is going to be a major salvage operation and the actual operation is likely to be completed in up to three months.” Since the submarine had some weapons on board when it went down, the responsibility for any further damage during the operation would also be on the vendor.

Purchase of Deep Sea Rescue Vessels (DSRVs)

In a related development, Rear Admiral Babu said the contract for purchase of two deep sea rescue vessels is also expected to be finalised within a month’s time. The Defence Acquisition Council of the Ministry of Defence had in December last given the go-ahead for purchase of the two vessels in order to improve the country’s response to any disaster at sea.

This article has been corrected for a factual error.

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