Call up a recent photo of Arihant SSBN publicly available at
What do you see?
The most obvious thing that has not been commented on is the humpback on the hull — the so-called “one and a half hulls””– that
permits the boat to slice through water, performing diving and other actions more efficiently. It is a design aspect, along with several other design features, taken from the Russian Severodvinsk and Borei class nuclear subs.
The less obvious but far more significant things to notice is that Arihant has apparently returned from a mission where it dived below crushing depths of well over 300 meters, around 340-350 metres, to see how well the hull would hold up. It has held up beautifully.
But how can this be deduced?Look closely at the smooth skin on the hull. The titanium alloyed hull has withstood the quite enormous pressures on it in the deep without crimping. But on the differently metalled conning tower there is evidence of the skin being crunched — see the wavy formations? — at great depths. It cannot be reproduced in labs or synthetically. And it couldn’t have happened because the Arihant dived to the 100 metre depth of the Vizag channel leading to the open sea. That the structure held up very well may be attributed to the extraordinary welding that fused the tower to the hull.
While it has been publicly put out that the Indian SSBN was working up its nuclear power plant to full power, etc., the fact is it takes no more than a month at the most, at a graduated pace, to reach the full 80 MW drive power. So for the rest of the last 8 months or so, it has been cruising and diving, including below crushing depths. After several more such deep dives the Arihant will have anechoic tiles — able to absorb sound waves, making detection by sonar more difficult — attached to its outer surface, and it will be ready for induction into fleet operations.
The most commendable aspect, other than the high-class technology and manufacturing skills of Indian welders, is the guts shown by the CO, XO, and the rest of the crew of the Arihant in making these repeated hazardous dives but required as a stern test for an SSBN.
The BIG QUESTION that arises is: With so much evidence of indigenous design and manufacturing skills on the Arihant, why is the Indian Navy still hankering for foreign submersibles and not trusting Indian capabilities to produce the Project 75i conventional submarine???