An Indian Navy ballistic missile submarine whose job is to carry nuclear weapons was forced out of service for 10 months after someone reportedly failed to properly close a hatch on the submarine, which led to extensive water damage.
It was reported that the nuclear-powered INS Arihant became flooded with saltwater and suffered extensive damage.
The Hindu first reported the story, citing a naval source.
“Arihant’s propulsion compartment was damaged after water entered it,” The Hindu reported. “A naval source said water rushed in as a hatch on the rear side was left open by mistake while it was at harbor.”
The submarine has since been repaired and “cleaned up,” The Hindu reported.
“Besides other repair work, many pipes had to be cut open and replaced. ‘Cleaning up’ is a laborious task in a nuclear submarine, the naval source said,” The Hindu reported.
“Indian authorities likely felt that pipes exposed to corrosive seawater couldn’t be trusted again, particularly pipes that carry pressurized water coolant to and from the ship’s 83 megawatt nuclear reactor,” Popular Mechanics reported. “Failing pipes could not only endanger the ship’s crew but the entire submarine… and her nuclear weapons.”
Indian began building the INS Arihant in 2009 and it was commissioned toward the end of 2016. It was India’s first ballistic missile submarine, part of the $2.9 billion submarine technology program.
“The modified Russian Akula-1 class nuclear attack submarine was lengthened to accommodate twelve K-15 short-range nuclear missiles or four K-4 intermediate range nuclear missiles. K-15 missiles, with their 434-mile range, primarily target Pakistan, while K-4 missiles, with their 2,174-mile range can reach all of Pakistan and as far as the capital of India’s other neighborhood rival, Beijing,” Popular Mechanics reported. “A second missile submarine, INS Arighant, was launched in December, and at least three submarines are planned.”