Want to know how to sink a 3 billion dollar submarine? The Indian navy can give you lessons, as it seems one of their sailors nearly perfected the method in 2017. The INS Arihant is the flagship of India’s nuclear fleet. However, it has been a harbor ornament for nearly 10 months, following an incident last year.
Sink a 3 Billion Dollar Submarine
According to The Hindu, while the INS Arihant was in harbor a sailor apparently forgot to close an external hatch on the sub before a dive. As the ship submerged water flooded into the vessel. This could have been fatal for all 100 sailors aboard the boat had the issue not been caught and quickly remedied. Life under the sea is dangerous enough for sailors without careless mistakes like this one. While the identity of the person, or persons, who are responsible for the incident is not publicly known, they were very nearly able to sink a 3 billion dollar submarine without firing a singe shot.
India’s Nuclear Triad
The INS Arihant is part of what is known as the “triad” of India‘s nuclear fleet. They currently have a second nuclear submarine on lease from Russia. The INS Chakra reportedly suffered damage to her sonar domes when coming into Visakhapatnam harbor in October of 2017. With both ships suffering damage and needing repairs, the only nuclear submarine remaining in the fleet was quietly launched in November of the same year. The naval leaders decided against a high publicity launch with the PM in attendance, and the INS Arighat slipped into the water almost unnoticed by the world. If the sailors aboard the INS Arihant had accidentally succeeded in sinking the 3 billion dollar sub, it would have critically crippled India’s naval defenses.
Arihant Is India’s Best 2nd Strike Option
The INS Arihant is the primary ship in India’s fleet capable of carrying nuclear missiles in the event of a 2nd strike situation. The country currently has a policy against being the first nation in a conflict to fire nuclear weapons. If the incident had ended differently India would be severely crippled in terms of nuclear capabilities. It is almost certain no one aboard the INS Arihant intended to sink a 3 billion dollar submarine, but the error quite nearly placed their entire country at risk.
Nuclear Fleet Is The Final Goal
India hopes to build a nuclear fleet of 5 Arihant class submarines. However, the program hinges upon the success of the flagship. The cost of the program has already been more than 4 times what was initially projected, according to a former Navy official. He said, “It was initially estimated to cost about ₹3000 crore for three boats — now the cost of Arihant itself seems to have gone over ₹14,000 crore.” In simple terms, someone almost managed to sink a 3 billion dollar submarine in its home harbor. If that had happened, it could well have been the end of India’s plans to build a fleet of nuclear subs. The issues that have created the unexpected cost in the program are largely attributed to its Russian design. The local fabricators making the parts for the Arihant seem to have trouble getting them to match correctly. That, coupled with extensive clean up and repair operations following the incident last year, has dramatically increased the cost of the Arihant. The Arighat, the second sub in the nuclear fleet is expected to be commissioned sometime in 2020.