Visakhapatnam, July 26 (ANI): India's first nuclear-powered submarine was launched today after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's wife, Gursharan Kaur cracked the auspicious coconut on the hull of the vessel at the Ship Building Centre here, giving the country a credible three-leg nuclear deterrent and strengthening the attack capability of the Navy.
India will now have a nuclear submarine that can slip under water and emerge to strike at a time and place of its choosing, as the country already possessed ground based missiles and aircraft that can deliver nuclear warheads.
Gursharan Kaur launched the submarine as per naval traditions. Verses from the Atharva Veda were recited on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, the Prime Minister said: "The construction of a submarine is a highly demanding task by itself. For the country to develop its first nuclear submarine is a special achievement."
"Today, we join a select group of five nations who possess the capability to build a nuclear powered submarine. I am particularly glad that this submarine is the outcome of a productive public-private partnership. Private industry in India has evolved considerably during the last few decades and we should leverage its strengths to achieve our defence goals," he added.
"The sea is increasingly becoming relevant in the context of India's security interests and we must re-adjust our military preparedness to this changing environment. Our Navy has a huge responsibility in this regard," Dr. Singh said.
He also expressed India's appreciation to Russia for its "consistent and invaluable cooperation," adding that it "symbolizes the close strategic partnership that we enjoy with Russia."
He reiterated the government is fully committed to ensuring the defence of national interests and the protection of its territorial integrity.
"We will continue to render all support to the constant modernization of our armed forces and to ensuring that they remain at the cutting edge of technology," Dr. Singh said, adding that India does not have any aggressive designs nor does it seek to threaten anyone.
"It is incumbent upon us to take all measures necessary to safeguard our country and to keep pace with technological advancements worldwide. It has rightly been said that eternal vigilance is the price of liberty," he said.
The nuclear submarine is 110 meters in length and 11 meters in width, and has a surface displacement of 6000 tonnes. Navy sources said that work is in progress for building a second nuclear submarine.
With Sunday's launch, India enters the exclusive club of five countries comprising US, Russia, France and China, which have capabilities to develop nuclear submarines that operate nuclear submarine with the launch of the top-secret Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV), called silent killers for its ability to remain under water for a long period due to its nuclear-powered engines.
The INS Arihant (destroyer of enemies) is a copy of Russian Charlie class nuclear submarine leased in 1980s. The trials of submarine here will prove its nuclear power plant and auxiliary systems before it goes to the Bay of Bengal for sea trials and weapon trials.
The INS Arihant will begin its underwater journey from Shipbuilding Centre here. Once submerged, it will undergo two years of extensive trials, first in harbour and then at sea, before formally joining the navy.
INS Arihant is a ballistic missile submarine armed with twelve K-15 missiles, each capable of carrying a 500-kg nuclear warhead to a target 750-km away.
At present submarines used by the Indian Navy are the diesel electric versions that have to come up to recharge their batteries, increasing their chances of being spotted.
For a brief period of three years from 1988-91 India used a nuclear submarine leased by Russia. Since then it has been trying to build one of its own.
India will also get couple of nuclear-powered Russian Akula class submarines this year. The INS Chakra, an Akula-2 class nuclear powered attack submarine, is already undergoing sea trials in the Pacific Ocean before coming to India for induction. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)