Nerpa nuclear submarine sets sail from Russia for India

MOSCOW (PTI): Russia has handed over a new nuclearpowered submarine armed with torpedos and cruise missiles to India andthe vessel has set sail for home with a mixed crew of Indian andRussian sailors.

The Akula class nuclear attack submarine on aten year lease to the Indian Navy left its base on the Pacific coastearlier this week, bound for India, RIA Novosti and Interfax newsagencies reported.

With the expected induction of Nerpa byyear-end, it will be after 19 years that the Indian Navy would have anuclear submarine in its fleet.

India's indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant is presently undergoing sea test trials.

However,an official of the shipyard said that the submarine was stillundergoing final sea trials. The Russian Navy's Pacific Command refusedto comment.

Reports said that the Nerpa submarine which has beenre-christened INS Chakra leased at a cost of USD 650 million isaccompanied by Russian instructors, who will help Indian naval crew tobring it to the new port of deployment.

"The Nerpa has not beenyet handed over to the Indian Navy," an official of the Amur Shipyardin Russia's far eastern Khabarovsk region said over phone.

"Presently the joint Indian-Russian naval crew is completing the combat training on the high seas," the shipyard official added.

Butexperts here do not rule out that the Russian Navy wants to formallyhand over Nerpa to the Indian Navy on the Indian coast and theso-called training mission could be a cover for security reasons.

Thesubmarine has been handed over two years after an accident onboardduring testing killed 20 people. The Amur shipyard, the builders of thesub said the vessel was now completely retrofitted after the November2008 accident

Russia's Akula-II class submarine is considered tobe the quietest nuclear submarine and during its trials by the RussianNavy since January its acoustic noises have been further reduced by theAmur Shipyard, which was initially to deliver the submarine in 2007.
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