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India’s Secret Base For Nuclear-Submarines Underway

India’s first operational base for nuclear submarines, being
developed secretly, for which the government has sanctioned close to Rs
160 crore in the new budget is underway.

While more than Rs 58 crore has been allocated for civil works related
to the base, the rest will be spent on developing under-water
communication systems for the nuclear subs so that the boomers can
communicate with each other and also the base station.

Being developed under the code name Project Varsha, the nuclear
submarine base will be located at an undisclosed location off the
eastern coast.

The work began almost two years ago and Navy spent about Rs 18 crore on the project in the last two years.

The first two occupants of the base will be the indigenous “INS Arihant”
and the Russian nuclear submarine Nerpa, which India will hire from
Russia.

Arihant will be inducted by 2012 implying that the Nerpa may arrive soon
as the naval officers and sailors need on-board training in the nuclear
submarine before taking up the responsibility of operating the Arihant.

Once the two nuclear-powered submarines are in operation, the new base
will be a strategic naval asset. The plan is to make the underwater base
as good as the Chinese N-sub base on Hainan island.

Communication link being crucial for nuclear subs that can remain
underwater for months, the government has sanctioned Rs 100 crore in the
budget to develop the very-long frequency communication system for the
boomers and the base. The same project received only Rs 15 crore last
year.

The “INS Arihant” was launched in July 2009. Initially, it was to
undergo sea trial for two years before induction. Now, the deadline has
been pushed to 2012 though the Navy did not elaborate on the reasons for
delay. Two indigenous nuclear subs that are believed to be under
construction are likely to be ready by 2020.

New Delhi is also understood to have signed a secret $650 million
inter-governmental agreement with Moscow for leasing the second Akula
class submarine to the navy for three years.

However, there is delay in the leasing process too, the reason for which
may be the absence of a suitable parking place for the boomers.

The berthing facility created for the INS Chakra—the Akula class
nuclear submarine which India hired from Russia in 1989 for years—has
long been taken up for other purposes.