The Indian Navy has officially taken delivery of the Akula-class nuclear powered attack submarine INS Chakra (ex-Nerpa), which is being leased from Russia for a decade.
The Akula II class (Project 971) submarine finished sea trials three years late, paving the way for delivery on December 29.
The signing ceremony took place at the Bolshoi Kamen ship building facility in the (Far East) Primorye region, ITAR-TASS news agency quoted a senior Russian navy official as saying. The crew will set sail for India at the end of this month in the 9 246 tonne (dived) submarine.
India is joining a relatively small club of nations to operate nuclear submarines, including the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France and China. However, India was a member of this club before when it leased a Charlie class cruise missile submarine from Russia between 1988 and 1991.
The Nerpa has a long and storied history. Construction started in 1993, but suspended due to lack of funding. The partly constructed vessel was mothballed until January 2004, when Rosprom (the Federal Agency for Industry) signed an agreement with the Indian government to complete the submarine and lease it to the Indian Navy.
The Nerpa had been scheduled for delivery in 2008 but an accident during sea trials on November 8 of that year caused major delays. 17 civilians and three crewmembers were killed when the fire suppressant system accidentally activated, releasing gasses that suffocated those on board.