India’s first locally-built nuclear-powered underwater vessel, the ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant, hasn’t been at sea for months because it’s under repair after an accident, according to a new story from The Hindu.
According to the story from Dinakar Peri and Josy Joseph, Airhant’s ‘propulsion compartment suffered damage after water entered the area more than 10 months ago’.
The submarine ‘suffered damage while it was at harbour,’ Peri and Joseph report. The vessel is being repaired and cleaned, according to them, with much piping requiring replacement.
The navy was attributing the damage to human error.
Peri and Joseph’s reporting is based on anonymous navy sources and has not yet been substantiated by others. However, both Peri, The Hindu’s defence correspondent, and Joseph, a veteran investigative reporter and currently the paper’s national security editor, carry great deal of credibility.
This is not the first time India’s nuclear-powered submarines have suffered accidents. Last month, the navy announced that the sonar on INS Chakra, an Akula-class attack submarine on lease from Russia, was damaged, though it’s not clear how. Navy chief Sunil Lanba said that a joint India-Russia team had assessed the damage and that an inquiry was ongoing. Meanwhile, the defence ministry is planning to lease another Akula from Russia.
India’s home-grown nuclear-powered submarine was shrouded in secrecy for years. That began to change in 2009 when the navy launched the INS Arihant.
On November 19, defence secretary Nirmala Sitharaman launched INS Arighat, the second submarine in the Arihant-class, according to Sandeep Unnithan of India Today. It will be at least another three years before the submarine joins service. One reason for the launch, Unnithan reports, is to make space at the docks of Visakhapatnam’s Ship Building Centre (SBC) for the assembly of two new submarines with greater displacement.
Ballistic missile submarines are supposed to form the third leg of India’s nuclear triad, with the survivability of submarines providing credibility to the country’s posture of ‘assured retaliation’.