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Nerpa to be commissioned in Russian Navy on time

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Nerpa nuclear attack sub which would join Indian Navy as INS Chakra. A file photo.

MOSCOW (PTI): Despite the delays in acceptance trials due to stormy sea conditions, Russian Navy is going ahead to commission the Indian Navy's Akula-II class nuclear submarine Nerpa by the year end, a top official has said.

"The Nerpa, built by the Amur Shipyard will be delivered on time in December this year," Governor of Khabarovsk Territory Vyacheslav Shport announced on Monday.

The submarine is due to be handed over to India by March next year on lease.

After its commissioning, the Russian Navy will train Indian Navy personnel on operationalising the submarine which would join the Indian Navy fleet after undergoing user trials.

Earlier, the Director General of Amur Shipyard, located in Komsomolsk-on-Amur city of the Khabarovsk Territory, had said the acceptance trials were postponed for about a week due to rough weather on Pacific Coast.

"December 2009 is the delivery deadline. There are no serious grounds for the delay in state acceptance trials, the normal process of preparations for them is underway. (Nerpa) Didn't leave (docks) on November 15, would set sails in coming days," Governor Shport was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti.

According to earlier reports, after its formal commissioning by the Russian Navy, the Nerpa would be rechristened INS Chakra and handed over to India in March next on 10-year lease under the $ 650 million deal.

Originally, Russia was to deliver the Nerpa, said to be similar to the indigenous nuclear submarine Arihant, by 2008, but the delivery was deferred due to financial woes of the shipyard.

The mishap in Sea of Japan on November 8, 2008 led to further delay when its trials were aborted, following the death of 20 technical staff and crew due to accidental release of toxic Freon gas from the fire suppression system in the sleeping quarters.

A crew-member has been arrested for tempering a temperature gauge, which led to the release of the toxic inert gas.

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