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First stage of sea trial of Nerpa N-sub for India completed

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MOSCOW (PTI): Russia has completed the first stage of pre-delivery trials of the Akula-II class 'Nerpa' nuclear-powered attack submarine, which is likely to be operational with the Indian Navy much before New Delhi's indigenous 'INS Arihant'.

The Nerpa submarine will join the Navy by the year-end with the first set of sea trials being completed successfully according to schedule, an official of the Amur Shipyard was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti on Monday.

But top officials in both Moscow and New Delhi are tight-lipped about the armaments the submarine will carry.

While INS Arihant is being armed with 700-km range K-15 nuclear-tipped missiles, it is not known if Nerpa will have Indian or Russian nuclear missiles.

Nerpa, the Akula-II class submarine, has a displacement of 12,000 tonnes and is far bigger than INS Arihant, which has just 6,000 tonnage capacity.

India joined an elite club of nations, including the US, Russia, China, France and the UK to produce nuclear under-sea vessels with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur inaugurating the sub for extensive sea trials on Sunday.

The new trials for Nerpa are taking place as it was hit by a major mishap on November 8 in the Sea of Japan when accidental triggering of the fire suppression system led to release of highly toxic gas, killing 20 crew members and civilian technical staff. It resumed sea trials on July 10 following extensive repairs.

Nerpa is the latest nuclear submarine in the Russian Navy's armada. Though INS Arihant has some features like the Russian sub, but according to NATO sources the Akula-class vessel is one of the most potent undersea weapons in the world, far superior than the Chinese subs.

After the sea trials, Indian Navy men would be trained on Nerpa, which can come in handy for personnel posted on board the Arihant.

"The (Nerpa) sub is back at the in Bolshoi Kamen (port) in the Maritime Territory, and it is getting ready for the second stage of the scheduled trials," the shipyard official said.

Some special equipment for performance checking and adjustment work will be installed on board the submarine, before it begins the second and final stage of pre-delivery trials.

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