The Indian Navy’s (IN’s) only nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) has been damaged in an accident and could require “substantial repair work” to render it operational again, The Print news website has reported.
The outlet quoted unnamed sources as saying the sonar dome of INS Chakra was damaged due to either a collision at sea or accidental scraping while entering the narrow channel into the naval base at Vishakhapatnam and could require substantial repair work to get it back in shape.
The attack submarine, obtained on a 10-year lease from Russia, has not sailed for a month and is berthed at its home port of Visakhapatnam for repairs.
Sources told The Print that the submarine — currently India’s only operational nuclear-powered vessel — suffered damage to its sonar dome in the accident. The sonar dome is located at the forward portion of the submarine, beneath the torpedo tubes.
While details of the incident are yet to emerge, sources said that the damage could be the result of either a collision at sea or accidental scraping while entering the harbour. The Indian Navy refused to comment on the incident.
Repair work on the submarine is likely to be complicated given that the sonar dome is made of titanium, a difficult metal that requires both specialised machinery and manpower to work on. However, the indigenous Arihant nuclear-armed submarines are also being made in Visakhapatnam and that could help.
The Visakhapatnam harbour has recorded incidents in the past when warships have touched the bottom while navigating the tight water channel. In January 2014, the INS Airavat — a Shardul class amphibious warship — suffered damage to its port propeller while entering the harbour.