INS Arihant: pinnacle of India’s naval power – general characteristics and operational achievements

As part of the Advanced Technology Vessel programme, India’s INS Arihant, the lead ship of the nuclear-powered Arihant class ballistic missile submarines, was launched in 2009.

A nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine from India’s Arihant class, INS Arihant (SSBN 80), is known as the “Vanquisher of Enemies” in Sanskrit. The six thousand-ton vessel was carefully built at the Ship Building Centre in Visakhapatnam, a vital port city, as part of the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) programme.

The event was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on July 26, 2009, which was also Vijay Diwas, or the anniversary of the Kargil War Victory Day. After INS Arihant was launched, it was fitted out and put through a series of lengthy sea tests. On February 23, 2016, it was declared operationally ready. For India’s naval capabilities, the submarine’s official commissioning in August 2016 represented a major turning point. In 2018, it was put into service.

ATV, a covert project that began in 1984, is responsible for developing the first of five projected submarines of the Arihant class, of which INS Arihant is the first. The ATV project’s first Director General, Vice Admiral Mihir K. Roy, was in charge of the project’s conception and initial phases. An important example of India’s commitment to developing its naval technology and strategic capabilities is the rumoured design inspiration for the Arihant class submarines came from the Akula-class submarine.

General Characteristics:

With a displacement of about 6,000 tonnes when surfaced, the INS Arihant is a ballistic missile submarine of the Arihant class. The submarine’s length is 111 metres, while its width and draft are 15 and 11 metres, respectively. It is propelled by a CLWR-B1 Compact Light-water reactor, which has a power output of 83 MW. It can reach remarkable speeds of 24 knots when submerged and 15 knots when surfaced thanks to its propulsion system, which consists of a turbine, a single shaft, and a high-skew propeller with seven blades.

About capabilities, the INS Arihant can hold 95 to 100 officers and crew members and has a test depth of around 350 metres. Modern sensor systems are installed on the submarine, such as the underwater communication system, control system, and sonar of the DRDO Panchendriya unified submarine and the DRDO USHUS sonar.

Equipped with six 533 mm diameter torpedo tubes, the INS Arihant has a fearsome weaponry. There are two types of SLBMs on board the submarine: four K-4 SLBMs and twelve K-15 Sagarika SLBMs. By offering strategic deterrence and strengthening the country’s maritime security posture, the INS Arihant’s extensive weaponry, alongside its modern propulsion and sensor systems, position it as a vital asset in India’s naval defence capabilities.

Operational History:

There have been several significant incidents throughout INS Arihant’s operational and service history, encompassing both setbacks and victories.

An aft hatch on the submarine was unintentionally left open while it was docked, according to a 2017 incident report. Due to the mistake, the propulsion area was flooded with saltwater, which caused the submarine to become unusable for ten months. Corroded pipes had to be replaced during this time to get the submarine back into service. The intricacy and delicate nature of submarine operations are shown by the disagreements surrounding many of the report’s details.

INS Arihant accomplished a significant milestone on November 5, 2018, despite the setback, by finishing its first 20-day deterrent patrol. Prime Minister Narendra Modi commended the crew for their successful trip and noted that this represented a major advancement in India’s nuclear deterrence capability. With this accomplishment, the submarine’s ability to fulfil its strategic function as a nuclear deterrent in the area was proven.

On October 14, 2022, INS Arihant held a user training launch to further validate the crew proficiency and the program’s performance. The target region in the Bay of Bengal was precisely struck by a Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) that the submarine successfully launched inside the predefined range during this operation. It’s important to note that the K-15 SLBM, and not the K-4 SLBM, was fired during this drill. At the moment, the K-15 Sagarika SLBM, which has a 750-kilometer range, is carried by the INS Arihant. The submarine’s potential to perform as a strategic platform equipped with advanced missile weapons was demonstrated by this successful launch.