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India likely to get Nerpa nuke sub by June' 10

Russian Akula-II class nuclear attack submarine. A file photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): India is likely to take delivery of a Russian nuclear-powered submarine, K-152 Nerpa, on a 10-year lease by June this year.

The Akula-II class submarine, which India has sought for long, was inducted into the Russian Navy last December after delayed sea trials due to a mishap on board in 2008.

India hopes to train its personnel on board the Russian submarine, to be rechristened INS Chakra, as it expects to operate an indigenously developed nuclear-powered vessel.

It had last July launched nuclear-powered INS Arihant, which is at present under construction in Visakhapatnam and is expected to join the fleet in about two years.

"The Nerpa is expected to join the Indian Navy by June.

It could be inducted in April or May. But, yes, certainly by June," Navy sources said here on Monday.

India and Russia have been officially maintaining a silence on the likely lease of the nuclear-powered submarine from Russia.

Meanwhile, an Indian crew is likely to visit Russia soon to join training on board Nerpa so that it could be sailed back to India with just a few Russian crew members.

Nerpa's sea trials in late 2008 had been disrupted following an accident on board when unauthorised release of a fire-fighting gas killed 20 men and injured more than 20 others.

At present Indian Navy has no nuclear-powered vessel in operation, though it had operated a Charlie class nuclear submarine between 1988 and 1991 mainly gaining experience in its operations.

The Charlie class submarine was leased out to India by Russian and was rechristened INS Chakra.

Upon expiry of the lease period, India returned the submarine to Russia, where the vessel joined its Pacific Fleet.

India plans to build three Arihant Class of nuclear-powered submarines and these would be inducted one after the other by 2015.

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