India’s First Ballistic Missile Sub Sidelined For Nearly A Year Following MishapJanuary 9, 2018
India’s very first nuclear ballistic missile carrying submarine (SSBN), the INS Arihant, has been pier-side undergoing repairs for ten months following a totally avoidable accident. The news comes as India struggles to move from an all diesel-electric fleet of submarines to a mixed fleet featuring much larger and more complicated boats.
The sidelining of Arihant in particular is especially troublesome as the submarine represents a very high-priority strategic weapons project for an increasingly powerful India, and the future of the country’s second-strike nuclear deterrent depends on the submarine class. The incident resulted from a hatch being mistakenly left open near the rear of the hull of the multi-billion dollar submarine while it was docked.
Water came rushing into the vessel’s nuclear propulsion compartment doing significant damage to the sensitive systems and infrastructure located there. Large sections of pipes had to be cut away in the aftermath, further complicated the repair effort. The vessel is powered by an 83 megawatt pressurized light-water reactor that uses enriched uranium fuel.