Moscow: The sea trials of the Russian
Akula-II class nuclear submarine Nerpa, which is to be leased
to India, are proceeding as `per schedule` and it will join
the Naval fleet by the year-end.
"The resumed sea trials are proceeding as per schedule"
in the high seas, an official of Amur Shipyard was quoted as
saying by RIA Novosti.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has taken a personal
initiative to ensure that the nuclear submarine, part of the
larger Gorshkov package signed in 2004, is handed over to the
Indian Navy by the end of this year.
With the acquisition of Nerpa, the Indian Navy will
regain its under-sea nuclear operational capability. The Nerpa
would be joining the Naval fleet much before the country`s
indigenous nuclear submarine, which is currently undergoing
sea trials expected to go on for at least two years.
After induction of Nerpa, India would be only the fifth
country in the world to have such a capability. Nuclear
submarines have far longer submergence power and can operate
far from the base for as long as five to six months.
Nerpa was to be deliver by June this year, but it was hit
by a mishap on November 8 last during pre-delivery trails in
which 20 technical staff and crew members were killed due to
accidental release of fatal Freon gas from its fire-
suppression system. One sailor has been arrested for tampering
with temperature gauge.
The sea trials were resumed on July 10 in the Sea of
Japan following extensive repairs costing around USD 60
million and would last for another week.
India reportedly paid USD 650 million for a 10-year lease
for the nuclear-propelled submarine.