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India's nuclear sub delivery could be delayed

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MOSCOW (PTI): The delivery of Akula-II class Nerpa nuclear submarine to the Indian Navy could be further delayed as repairs on the underwater vessel have been hit by a crash-crunch faced by the Russian shipyard.

Although the pre-delivery factory trials have been successfully completed after last November's mishap claiming 20 lives of technical staff and crew members, the shipyard has its power supply cut for non-payment electricity bills, hampering the work on Nerpa, General Director of Amur Shipyard Nikolai Povzy said Thursday.

"The preparations for pre-commissioning state trials are underway in complex financial conditions. The "Vostok" plant of Amur Shipyard has not got the money spent on the repairs of the submarine after last year's accident and from today the power has been cut," Povzyk was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

Russia was to deliver the Nerpa nuclear attack submarine to the Indian Navy on 10-year lease in June-July, however, it was delayed after accidental release of toxic Freon gas from the fire suppression system on November 8 last year during trials in the Sea of Japan.

Later in May Prime Minister Vladimir Putin personally visited Komsomolsk-on-Amur in the country's Far East and ordered to complete necessary trials and deliver the submarine to India by the end of the year.

Earlier reports say that the Indian naval personnel would also take part in the final trials with the Russian navy, which is to formally commission Nerpa prior to its lease to India as INS Chakra.

According to local experts further delay in Nerpa could hit the programme of operationalising the indigenous INS Arihant nuclear submarine, which is based on the same Akula-II blueprints.

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