First Indian nuclear submarine set for open sea trials

NEW DELHI(AFP) - India's first home-built nuclear submarine is ready for sea trials in open waters, a step before it becomes fully operational, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced on Saturday.

India unveiled the indigenous 6,000-tonne INS Arihant (Destroyer of Enemies) in 2009 as part of a project to construct five nuclear armed vessels.

Mr Singh described the development as "a giant stride in the progress of our indigenous technological capabilities" and said he hoped to see the submarine commissioned soon.

Arihant is powered by an 85-megawatt nuclear reactor and can reach 24 knots, according to defence officials. It will carry a 95-member crew.

The Indian navy inducted a Russian-leased nuclear submarine into service in April 2012, joining China, France, the United States, Britain and Russia in the elite club of countries with nuclear-powered vessels.

Nuclear submarines can function underwater without needing to surface regularly to be recharged, unlike their conventional diesel-electric counterparts.

India is due to receive the first of six Franco-Spanish diesel-electric Scorpene submarines in 2015, part of a multi-billion dollar project to modernise its navy.

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