Indian SSBN Arihant Sea Trials Begin This Week: Report

Fantastic news. India's first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine, Arihant, will finally step out of its secure location in Visakhapatnam's harbour area (photo above from harbour acceptance trials) and head out to sea for trials, says this new report by friend and colleague Sandeep Unnithan. The case-off, the report says, could be as early as tomorrow. With all systems go for sea trials, the 6,000 ton vessel powered by an Indian pressure water reactor (PWR) finally enters the operative phase of its development, which, over the next year, will include submerged trials and weapons trials.

The cast-off comes not a moment too soon. As Unnithan's report states, India envisages a fleet of five SSBNs, including two more of the Arihant class that already under build in Vizakhapatnam. Wish we could have been there for the cast-off! Unnithan and I were among a group of journalists who witnessed the unveiling of the Arihant in July 2009 during its launch. Fantastic day with no photography allowed at the time.

The Arihant has taken its time in development. Hopefully, this is it. A senior Indian Navy officer tells me, "The harbour acceptance trials (HATs) took an extended period of time for various reasons. But we are confident heading into surfaced and shallow submerged trials, before we extend the envelope and test her at ceiling parameters. There is a lot of confidence in the test crew and spirits are high."

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