National Geographic Photo of the Day

Sunday, July 26, 2009

India's first Indigenous Nuclear Submarine

Today is Kargil Vijay Diwas, and India salutes those who fell in its defence. (F U Musharraf, you think you won don't you? FYI = no you didn't.)

But there is one event of significance that will occur on this day. Being the military buff I am, I have keenly followed the developments on the ATV (Advanced Technology Vessel). This was a prototype of India's indigenous designs for a Nuclear Submarine.

On this day, the Prime Minister will be at the Naval Dockyard of the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam to launch India's first indigenously-built Nuclear Submarine. The submarine will displace 6000 tonnes and it will take two years of sea trials and harbour trials before it is inducted into the Navy for active service. In case you haven't got the idea yet, it has a Nuclear reactor inside of it.

Only 5 nations till now have nuke boats in service - the United States, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and the People's Republic of China. Though India had earlier leased a Russian nuclear sub in 1988 for a period of three years, and will be getting two Akula Class Nuclear Attack subs soon from Russia, this will be its true entry ticket into this elite club. Besides even though six nations operate nuke boats, only 5 (including India) will have the capability to indigenously build them.

The Arihant will be an SSBN, and will be equipped with Sagarika missiles and presumably the Agni-III (once the missile completes development). The Sagarika (a.k.a K-15) missile can carry a one-tonne nuclear weapon to a distance of 750 km. The vessels are powered by an 80MW pressurized water reactor (PWR) with enriched uranium fuel. The final production version of the reactor was built at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) at Kalpakkam. The ATV's hull will also feature twin flank-array sonars for being used as a torpedo approach warning system, and a stern-mounted distinctive 'bulb' on top of the rudder housing an ultra-low frequency thin-line towed active/passive sonar array built by state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), broadband expendable anti-torpedo countermeasures developed by RAFAEL of Israel, as well as a single universal vertical launcher capable of launching supersonic multi-role cruise missiles like the BrahMos and Sagarika.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s wife Gursharan Kaur will crack the auspicious coconut (no, no Champagne bottles here in the Indian Navy ;-) ) marking the launch of India’s first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine at the Shipbuilding Centre, Vishakapatnam on July 26 2009. The launch, as naval tradition demands is always performed by a lady.

An image of the World's Largest Nuke Sub - A Russian Typhoon

The hull sections of two more ATV vessels have also been completed, and the government has also given approval for the construction of SSNs to escort the SSBNs.


Here are a few photos from the launch event.

Go here if you'd like to read the PM's speech at the submarine's launch. -


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