New Delhi: India’s under-construction indigenous nuclear powered submarines being built at Vishakapatnam are safe.The Ministry of Defence (MoD) today came out with detailed statement saying yesterday’s accident at Naval Ship Building Centre in the eastern-coast city was not connected with any nuclear related activity.
The INS Aridaman, a follow-on to the 6,000 tonne nuclear powered INS Arihant is being built at the yard where the accident took place. The MoD plans to build a total of four nuclear powered submarines. While the Arihant is readying for final sea trials the others vessels are in various stages of development.
“The accident is in no way related with any Nuclear related activity. The submarines are safe and the accident does not adversely affect the project activities or the activities of Indian Navy or Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)”, a statement of the MoD said today laying to rest fears of delay in this super-secretive project of national importance.
The accident occurred while preparations were being made by Larsen and Toubro, an industrial partner of the DRDO and the MoD. Teams were undertaking preparatory activities for a ‘ Hydro Pressure Test’ of a tank inside a building at the Ship Building Centre, Visakhapatnam when the accident occurred killing one L&T employee and injuring two others, who are now stable. No defence personnel were involved in the accident.
The test was to check out a component and was part of the standard industrial process being carried out by the L&T at the facility in Vishakapatnam. Sources in the MoD said the accident occurred inside the building but nowhere near the Submarines and will not impact the progress in anyway.
Work related to the pressure system involved in accident has been suspended till the cause is established and mitigating measures are put in place. An inquiry has been ordered by the Department of Defence R&D to investigate the accident.
Importance of the N-Subs
At last count China had 7 Nuclear powered Submarines in its 55 strong fleet of submarines, the IINS Arihant and its follow-on vessels will be India’s response and provide a ‘second strike capability’.
Yesterday’s accident had assumed significance as strategic circles are aware of the importance of the work going on at the ship building centre. The INS Arihant and its follow-on vessels are the first nuclear powered submarines built outside the five countries which are permanent members of the UN Security council – US, UK France, Russia and China. These will carry nuclear-tipped missiles that can fired while the vessel is submerged.
Each is powered by a 83MWe pressurised water reactor (PWR), developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre with assistance from a Russian design team. It uses enriched uranium as fuel and light water as coolant and moderator. It will also carry 12 n-tipped missiles.
In Naval terminology, a nuclear powered submarine which is capable of launching a nuclear missile is classified as ship submersible ballistic, nuclear (SSBN).
Each of the vessels will cost Rs 15,000 crore and has been jointly developed by the Indian Navy, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) and DRDO at the dockyard in Visakhapatnam. Russian designers are there to assist in building the vessel. Other companies involved in the development of the submarine are Tata Power, a division of Tata Group and Larsen & Toubro (L&T), a technology, engineering, construction and manufacturing company.
The project, earlier known as the advanced technology vessel (ATV), has been under development since 1998.