India reached a milestone on Sunday when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur launched the country's first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine 'INS Arihant' for sea trials.
Code-named Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV), the submarine christened 'INS Arihant' (destroyer of enemy) was launched for sea trials at the Matsya naval dockyard in Vishakapatnam. As India has declared "no first use" of nuclear weapons, the country's weapons system must survive a first strike for retaliation. Therefore, Arihant's primary weapon is stealth as it can lurk in ocean depths of half a kilometre or more and fire its missiles from under the sea. The 6000-tonne submarine is powered by an 85 megawatt capacity nuclear reactor and can acquire surface speeds of 22 to 28 kmph (12-15 knots) and submerged speed upto 44 kmph (24 knots). It will be carrying a crew of 95 men and will be armed with torpedoes and missiles including 12 ballistic missiles
The launch of the submarine is said to put India in the exclusive league of five other nations capable of designing and building their own nuclear submarines.
China was said to be the last country to join the league in 1971. While the conventional diesel-electric submarines have to go up the surface to charge the batteries, the nuclear submarine has underwater endurance and could also travel at double the speed of conventional submarines.