Visakhapatnam, Apr 4 (IANS): India's naval warfare capability will get one of its biggest boosts in decades when the 8,000-ton Russian-origian nuclear-powered attack submarine INS Chakra is formally inducted into the navy here Wednesday.
With the induction, India will becomes only the sixth nation in the elite club of nations with nuclear-powered submarines that can remain underwater for several months unlike diesel-powered boats that have to surface at regular intervals.
The other nations with nuclear-powered submarines are the US, Russia, France, Britain and China.
The submarine would operate with the Indian Navy for 10 years and provide India's sea warfare a thumping capability - not just as an attack and weapons platform, but would also serve as a laboratory for researchers to study the technology of nuclear submarine warfare.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony will commission the Akula II class Nerpa that has been renamed as INS Chakra.
Antony will fly from New Delhi to attend the function with navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma at the Ship Building Complex here.
India had operated a Soviet Charlie class nuclear submarine from 1988 but this was later returned.
India's indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant is also expected to start operational patrols soon, officials said. "Arihant is at an advanced stage and will be joining soon - maybe in months," an official in know of the development told IANS here.
That would mean that India will have two nuclear submarines guarding its long maritime boundaries.
INS Chakra has a maximum speed of 30 knots and can operate at a maximum depth of 600 meters. With a crew of 73, it can remain underwater for over three months at a time.
The vessel is armed with four 533mm and four 650mm torpedo tubes.
India and Russian signed a deal worth over $900 million for leasing the submarine which was expected to be inducted in 2010. But the delivery was delayed after an accident in 2008, in which 20 sailors died after the vessel's fire-suppression systems were accidentally triggered during sea trials, releasing toxic gases.
Indian Navy crews have already been trained for operating the submarine.