Underway Arihant SSBN

My usually reliable source was misinformed about the dateline of the Arihant going out on sea trials, but by about only three-quarters of a day! — whence this blog was originally posted late morning yesterday (Dec 15). It turned out the SSBN got going in the early afternoon. The Strategic Forces Command controlling this asset received the message from the Commander Arihant — ‘Underway on nuclear power’!

An important thing to note is that other than an ASW helicopter it had no escort vessels, leading one to believe that because the Arihant is built on modular design as per other Russian nuclear-powered submersibles, the forward compartment, able to accommodate the entire crew and equipped with survival materials for eight hours, can be detached from the rest of the body in case of mishap or gravest emergency and float to the top.
The original blog:
The 1st of the Arihant-class SSBNs after long and thorough harbor trials, and with its 80MW nuclear power plant going critical a couple of months back, will now head out to sea from Vizag tomorrow, December 16, 2014. It will be put though its paces and will pull a list of manoeuvres to see how the boat behaves. A real big feather in the cap for the private sector Larsen & Toubro Company, which built this submarine. The expectation in naval circles is high that these should go off well, preparing the vessel for induction into the fleet by Autumn-Winter 2015. It will finally afford the country, other than the Agni-5, with genuine strategic options. Underway Arihant!

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Asian geopolitics, Defence Industry, DRDO, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Navy, Military Acquisitions, nuclear industry, Nuclear Policy & Strategy, Nuclear Weapons, South Asia, Strategic Forces Command. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Underway Arihant SSBN

  1. dk sharma says:

    sir congrts grats

  2. Itanium says:

    I don’t want to turn this website into physics and rocketry portal, but the article mentions agni 5 – why does it chough out so much of smoke compared to ICBMs of other countries [that burn so cleanly] ?

  3. Clean burn vs. getting things done!

    • Itanium says:

      Love it, nice reply Bharat 🙂 On a more serious note we will be very interested for a thorough analysis on its broadband noise profile to see how it compares to other contemporary subs like Borei and Ohios!

      • Ahem! But do you have raw data on the Arihant’s noise profile? That could be the starting point.

      • Itanium says:

        Well what I meant say is we need to wait to see how our designers have taken care of its noise profiling, especially the propeller blade – fluid interaction. Needless to say stealth is especially key for any submarine platform that carries nuclear warheads. Still great achievement though!

  4. Shiva says:

    Bharatji, This article in Hindu on Arihant’s reactor – http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ins-arihant-may-be-of-limited-utility/article6709623.ece?homepage=true
    Please share your take on this. Should we be concerned?

    • Surprised by the Hindu publishing this put-up job. The fact is the ARIHANT SSBN is a hybrid Russian design with a ten year fuel-loading cycle, which is standard for other than the US vessels that come in with much longer inter-fueling periods. 10 years of service is long enough and more than adequate for our strategic purposes. True, refueling this class will require cutting up the sub and re-welding the halves. May be India N-power plant designers can improve the reactor design for greater efficiency and the follow-up SSBN class design will have an easier refueling method.

      • Shiva says:

        The article, while explicitly not saying so, gives the impression that Arihant cannot go on missions longer than 90 days because of the core reactor refueling, indirectly implying that one has to split the hull every 90 days or so to refuel. This baffled me. How on earth can that be so. Thanks for the clarification, sir. And looking forward to the next generation sub S-5.

  5. The 90-day limit perhaps refers to the imperative to change crews — reason why I had sometime back suggested a forward basing option in northern Australia for sustained SSBN loitering off China coast.

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