INS Chakra - the nuclear-propelled hunter killer submarine - formally joined the Indian Navy today. "The INS Chakra will increase our flexibility and capability immensely," Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Nirmal Verma, said. (See Pics)
The INS Chakra reached the Indian Shores on March 31 after completing a 40-day journey surfacing only a few times to relay back its position to the Naval Headquarters in New Delhi. For company, it had INS Ranjit sailing along with it.
And, during the journey it quietly negotiated the South China Sea. Its journey began from Russia's Balshikha Kaman near Vlaidivostok.
Unlike conventional submarines that India operates which need to surface to charge its battery's often -sometimes as frequently as 24 hours - INS Chakra can stay under as long as it wants. Its ability to stay underwater is restrained only by human endurance to stay underwater.
INS Chakra is an Akula Class submarine and will carry conventional weapons and will be used to hunt and kill enemy ships. The induction of the nuclear-powered submarine clearly indicates India's intentions in the Indian Ocean Region and South East Asia which has recently seen increasing assertive Chinese presence in the last few months.
The induction of a nuclear submarine will also a send a strong reassuring message to south east Asian nations like Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia who want India to play a more active role in the region to counter the assertiveness of China in the area.
The induction of the INS Chakra is likely to be followed by the induction of the INS Arihant, which will be capable of launching nuclear weapons and therefore complete the nuclear triad. INS Arihant, it is understood, is now undergoing sea trails at Vizag.
The INS Chakra displaces about 10,000 tons and has about 80 crew members on board. It can do as much as 33 knots per hour - more than twice the speed that conventional submarines can do. The entire crew of INS Chakra has been trained in Russia for over a year. Also, INS Chakra has better facilities for the crew including a largish recreation area, a gymnasium and a Sona as well.
Earlier in 1988, the India Navy had leased a Charlie Class nuclear-powered submarine for three years till 1991. However, the expertise gathered then was lost as most officers who had trained to operate nuclear submarines have retired.