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India’s nuclear submarine: INS Arihant

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August 14, 2013: Looking for news on the Sindhurakshak?

August 11, 2013

BS reports apologetically:

INS Arihant, India’s first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, which went “critical” over the weekend, has enabled India to join a select club of nations like the US, Russia, China, the UK and France, which possess nuclear-powered submarines.

The Arihant’s 83Mw pressurised water reactor (PWR) has also been built with considerable assistance from the Russians, who are said to have helped scientists at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in miniaturising the reactor to fit into the 10m diameter hull of the nuclear submarine.

But it is equally true that the Arihant is more than a sum of its imported parts, transfer of technology and consultancy given by the Russians. The Rare Materials Project of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) in Ratnahalli, Mysore, supplied the highly enriched uranium, while the submarine itself was built in a completely enclosed dry dock at the Shipbuilding Centre in Vishakapatnam.

India’s private sector helped out the $2.9-billion project in significant ways. The hull for the vessel was built by L&T’s Hazira shipbuilding facility, Tata Power built the control systems for the submarine, while the systems for the steam turbine integrated with the reactor are supplied by Walchandnagar Industries, reported DNA newspaper in 2009.

TOI reported:

The miniaturized atomic reactor on board India’s first indigenous nuclear submarine
The green signal for the reactor to be “finally switched on” was apparently given by the top-secret meeting of the Nuclear Command Authority, chaired by PM Manmohan Singh and attended by Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) members, among others, on July 31.

The reports raise questions about what was it that was actually achieved when the first media reports on the Arihant were released four years ago (see below). If the power has just been switched on, then has the submarine ever been tested?

July 27, 2009

From NYT:

India launched its first nuclear-powered submarine in a ceremony in southern port city of Vishakhapatnam on Sunday, becoming one of just six nations in the world to have successfully built one.

After years of relying on rented Russian submarines, the government unveiled the 367-foot Arihant, which means “destroyer of enemies” in Hindi. The new vessel is part of a broad effort by the Indian government to create a military that matches India’s rising global stature.

Indian military officials said the submarine would be capable of carrying nuclear weapons, however Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who attended the ceremony, said that the it was not built to threaten India’s neighbors.

“We do not have any aggressive designs,” he said. “We seek an external environment in our region and beyond that is conducive to our peaceful development and the protection of our value systems.”

Xinhua reported:

India Sunday launched its first home-made nuclear-powered attack submarine in what Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said a process to strengthen the country’s military preparedness.

Singh personally chaired the launching ceremony at the navy port of Visakhapatnam, southern India, during which his wife Gursharan Kaur broke a coconut and did a prayer to mark the launch of INS Arihant. the 6,000-ton, 110-meter long and 11-meter wide warship capable of carrying 100 sailors, said a senior navy officer.

Borei class nuclear submarine

Borei class nuclear submarine

ET added:

The official photographs of the event did not show a clear image of the submarine either.

The only glimpse of the vessel — that has made India the only nation in the Indian Ocean region to have a nuclear submarine and the sixth in the world to have the capability to design and construct a nuclear submarine — was in the photograph of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the ceremony.

But the journalists, naval officers, 143 Russian technicians and diplomats could see the 110-metre-long and 11-metre-broad sea leviathan from the closest possible distance.

The design of the submarine that has a surface displacement of 6,000 tonnes clearly resembles the Russian Borei class nuclear-submarine. Its surface is uneven and its hull sits on a mat rolled with black square tiles, which are capable of absorbing sound waves and help it in maintaining stealth.

The white snub nose of the gleaming black submarine is the sonar (sound navigation and ranging) sheet of the vessel. It helps in recognising a vessel in the vicinity by receiving the reflected sound waves from its surface.

The conning tower is closer to the bow rather than the centre as in conventional submarines.

IE reported:

Many a heart at the Naval Physical Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), Kochi, would have swelled in pride when ‘INS Arihant’, the country’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, touched waters in Vishakahpatnam on Sunday. For, the eyes and ears of INS Arihant were designed and developed by scientist of the NPOL.

The sonar(Sound Navigation and Ranging) system installed on Arihant are a combination of two communication systems named `Ushus’ and ‘Panchendriya’. Panchendriya is a an integrated submarine sonar and tactical control system, comprising a passive surveillance sonar, a passive ranging sonar, an intercept sonar, an active sonar and an underwater communications system. Ushus is a new-generation sonar for `kilo-class’ submarines.

During the past two decades, the NPOL had given the Indian Navy an impressive 87 percent self-reliance in acoustic sensors for warships and submarines.

BS wrote:

Based on the design provided by the Navy and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), L&T’s submarine design centre carried out detailed engineering, using the latest 3D modelling and product data management software, said a press release. “We feel very proud to have contributed significantly to realising India’s dream of an indigenous nuclear submarine. Over the last four decades, L&T has played a crucial pioneering role in building India’s strategic sectors by successfully executing several technology-intensive and challenging projects,” said L&T Chairman and MD A M Naik.

Building the first nuclear submarine was the latest milestone in L&T’s association with the Indian Navy and the DRDO. The company was looking forward to building more submarines and warships, Naik added. In May, the company had entered into an agreement to float a joint venture with EADS Defence and Security, Europe’s largest defence equipment maker, to tap the Rs 50,000-crore Indian defence market.

The JV is to design, develop and manufacture electronic warfare equipment, radars, military avionics and mobile systems for military requirement. L&T was planning to invest about Rs 2,000 crore over the next three years on defence-related business, Naik had said.

Hindu reported:

Atomic Energy Commission chairman Anil Kakodkar said on Sunday that the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), by building the miniaturised reactor that propelled the country’s nuclear-powered submarine, had demonstrated “that we have our indigenous Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) technology.” He called the launching of INS Arihant “an important milestone” in the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) programme. “This PWR technology is very complex. We have been able to compact this reactor and pack it in the cramped space” of the hull of the submarine, Dr. Kakodkar told The Hindu from Visakhapatnam where the submarine was launched.

The shore-based PWR has been working at Kalpakkam, 60 km from Chennai, for the past three years, he said.

India has been a world leader in building Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) that use natural uranium as fuel, and heavy water as moderator and coolant. But this is the first time that India has built a PWR that used enriched uranium as fuel, and light water as both coolant and moderator.

A. Sivathanu Pillai, Chief Controller, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said: “Launching the Arihant is a great event for the nation because we are in the select club of countries having a nuclear-powered submarine.”

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2 Responses

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  1. […] a hub of technological innovation. Buying and running a nuclear submarine, or buying the rights to put together a sub to someone else’s design, does not enable a country to join any elite […]

  2. […] a new class of nuclear-powered submarines intended to carry ballistic missiles. The first of these Arihant-class boats has already been launched and is expected to enter service next year. Five more are […]


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