Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Russian Akula-II On Sea Trials, Bound For India?

A Russian SSN originally laid down in 1991 is out on sea trials in the Sea of Japan, according to Russian media reports. Interestingly, it looks like the attack sub might be headed for India:
Indian media have reported on various occasions that the construction of the submarine was partially financed by the Indian government. India has reportedly paid $650 million for a 10-year lease of the 12,000-ton submarine.
According to Indian defense sources, Nerpa is expected to join the Indian navy under the designation INS Chakra in the second half of 2009.
The submarine will not be equipped with long-range cruise missiles due to international restrictions on missile technology proliferation, but India may later opt to fit it with domestically designed long-range nuclear-capable missiles.
However, a spokesman for the Amur shipyard earlier said that Nerpa differed considerably from the previous Akula-class submarines.
"Our Nerpa is fitted with more sophisticated navigation, sonar, and hydraulic systems," he said.
Russian state officials have categorically denied reports of a possible lease of a nuclear submarine to India.
Asked in late September to comment on media reports on alleged plans to export nuclear submarines, in particular to India, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said: "The press discusses lots of things. We do not export nuclear submarines."
India previously leased a Charlie I class nuclear submarine from the Soviet Union from 1988 to 1991.
I tend to believe Indian sources more than the Russian Defense Minister, so it's likely the sub is headed to India. This is especially interesting considering the recent report about the current troubles being faced by India's diesel submarine fleet. This brings up a good question for debate: is it better for a non-superpower to go for a smaller nuclear submarine fleet, or put their money into more diesel boats? My guess is that either is a good option for navies of limited means, but trying to go for both ends up with both the nuclear and non-nuclear sides of the sub fleet short-changed. Brazil also seems to be trying to "go nuclear" while still looking to increase her diesel fleet; of course, they have oil money to help in the funding. In all cases, I expect that any "third world" country that goes the nuclear route will have to rely on their supplier for specialized nuclear submarine maintenance requirements; this will continue to give the big powers significant input into how said SSNs are used -- if they don't like what they're going to do with it, they'll threaten to withhold support.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow that's intense, you read indian media?

10/27/2008 8:19 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would India and Brazil want Nuc boats? do they have a need to project their naval power? Against whom? Against what? I remember India leased a soviet Nuc boat many years ago for a short while. A friend who was working in India at the time told me it was a "drydock queen." Good luck to them in their latest venture.

Keep a zero bubble......


10/27/2008 10:50 PM

Blogger Harry Buckles said...

The only reason to have nuclear subs is to be able to be imperialists and be anywhere in the world. If the Department of Defense actually defending the United States (vice the Department of Offense that it is.) we would only need diesel or AIP boats to defend against our neighbors. Read the recent book, Lessons Not Learned by Roger Thompson to see how much we like to underestimate the capabilities of diesel boats.

10/28/2008 4:42 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comments of harry buckles reflect the sort of shallow, ivory tower understanding of the world evidenced by our country's most liberal academics.

Only an idiot tries to make a point by starting with the phrase "[t]he only reason." The argument never gets off the ground because it's clear that the proponent either doesn't understand the subject matter, hasn't thought the argument through, or both.

10/28/2008 7:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A new tracking mechanism for these Indian boats could be an embarked canine trained specifically to alert on the overpowering stench of curry . . .

10/28/2008 8:54 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Charlie class boat leased to India reportedly had a number of serious problems that led to the Indians referring to it as a Chernobyl class boat.

If they lease an Akula-II from Russia, maybe they can write a discount into the lease, prorated for each Indian crewman that dies due to the inferior quality of the boat.

10/28/2008 10:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

India and Brazil, and any other nation using submarines primarily for coastal defense (and limited short-range deployment) does not need the capability that nuclear submarines provide.
The diesel submarine is incredibly effective if supported with an appropriate infrastructure to maintain it. For these countries to switch to nuclear submarines would require more than simply purchasing one. It would require the development of technology, training, and maintenance programs that it doesn't have right now, and wouldn't be able to develop before the boats begin to have problems.

Diesel is sufficient if you don't have to steam across the Atlantic or Pacific to conduct your business.

10/28/2008 10:09 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both Brazil and India possess extremely long coastlines. As a result, diesel submarines may not be sufficient even for coastal defense, and may not be sufficient for other intended uses.

Both Brazil and India have established nuclear power industries. Alhough that does not equate to having the sort of capabilities needed to support nuclear powered submarines, it puts them a lot closer than many other nations.

For years, India has believed that the Indian Ocean is so named for a reason. And they'd like to exert more influence in the Indian Ocean than they have been able to do in the past. India's operation of nuclear powered submarines could provide the ability to exert that influence.

It seems much more difficult to envision why Brazil might want to make the tremendous investment in time and resources required to operate nuclear powered submarines.

10/29/2008 1:05 PM

Blogger Harry Buckles said...

Perhaps I should have qualified my earlier comment with the idea that imperialism is not all that bad to avoid being lumped in with Edward Said in the shameful ivory tower.

That being said, unless you've got the need to regularly cross oceans, nuclear powered submarines are not worth the cost. That's even true for countries that have strong domestic nuclear industries like Brazil and India. If we build them at over $2B a pop, one can imagine how much it would cost one of those countries to build one from scratch.

Hopefully I will not be proved wrong, but if ever we engage in hostilities with a country in possession of a competent diesel force, we will lose at least one carrier, perhaps more. Recall how many Japanese carriers our diesel boats sunk.

10/29/2008 8:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harry--welcome back from the ivory tower.

The competent diesel submarine force problem keeps many people awake at night.

Our Navy is 100% nuclear submarines, in part, because if we build even one diesel submarine, then the argument would be joined about building more of them in lieu of more costly nuclear submarines. As a result, some people in our Navy don't even want to hear the words diesel sumbarine or AIP.

10/30/2008 8:03 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indian Navy Crew To Train On Nuclear-Powered Submarine

"The Indian Navy crew of nearly 40 personnel will leave for the Russian port of Vladivostok in batches to train on board INS Chakra this month," said a senior naval official, requesting anonymity.
The shipyard in Russia announced last month that the submarine had been shifted out of the shipyard to a maintenance facility in Primorye territory near Vladivostok for trials in the Sea of Japan.
The Akula-II class vessels are considered to be the quietest and deadliest among Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines. The likely date of commissioning of INS Chakra in the Indian Navy is Aug 15, 2009.
According to defence officials, three domestically-designed nuclear submarines are under construction under a top-secret Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) programme at Mazagon docks in Mumbai, but the navy needs to gain first-hand experience in nuclear submarine operations, deployment and maintenance prior to the deployment of domestic submarines. The first of the three indigenous nuclear submarines is expected to begin its sea trials Jan 26, 2009.
According to experts, INS Chakra would help India fill the void caused by the delays in the indigenous ATV project to build a nuclear powered attack submarine capable of firing missiles.
Three Indian naval crews for the nuclear submarine have already been trained at the specially set up training centre in Sosnovy Bor near St. Petersburg.
The nuclear submarine leased by Russia will not be equipped with long-range cruise missiles due to international restrictions on missile technology proliferation, but India may later opt to fit it with domestically-designed long-range nuclear-capable missiles.
At present, India operates 16 conventional diesel submarines and awaits six French-Spanish Scorpene class diesel attack submarines, to be delivered between 2012 and 2017. India plans to deploy at least three nuclear submarines armed with long-range strategic missiles by 2015.
India previously leased a Charlie-I class nuclear submarine from the Soviet Union from 1988 to 1991.

11/03/2008 6:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

An now, this Akula II proved to have problems. Just let these gooks keep on using those expensive toys and play with them until they soil our oceans some more. We hend't enough with the Russians. Now, we'll have to do with the Indians and the Brazilians...

11/10/2008 9:30 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guys, before asking why India or Brazil should have what or not, have a peek at your own backyard. Do you expect other nations to sit, where they were 50 or 100 hears back? Each nation has its own strategic and security interests and you should study that why would any country need that. Not sure about Brazil, I being an Indian can understand that India does need nuke subs for sure, as a counter measure to hostile neighbors and long range oil import source/security, given it depends on 70% of oil from imports.

7/21/2009 11:53 PM

Anonymous Lucinda said...

Quite useful piece of writing, thanks for this post.

9/12/2012 3:02 PM


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