INS Chakra the only nuclear-powered attack submarine of the Indian navy is believed to be on its return back to Russia as its lease draws close to an end in 2022.
The speculations are being made after photos of the vessel transiting the south china sea close to Singapore went viral on the 4th of June on Twitter. Even though no official statement or clarification has been issued regarding the speculations being made either by the Government of India or the Indian Navy, sources close to the Defence Ministry of India have confirmed the developments.
INS Chakra an Akula class nuclear-powered, double-hulled attack submarine was inducted into the Indian Navy in the year 2012 on a 10-year lease from Russia. The vessel was also used for the training of personnel that would work on indigenously built nuclear-powered submarines in the future.
INS Chakra also known as INS Chakra II,is only the second nuclear-power submarine ever to be part of the fleet of the Indian Navy. It was formerly known as Nerpa when under Russian service.
It is named after the first nuclear-powered submarine of the Indian Navy INS Chakra, which was also leased from Russia (then the Soviet Union) in 1988 for three years.
It is to be noted that there is a global ban on the sale of nuclear-powered submarines under the Non-proliferation treaty ( NPT). This treaty does not extend to the leasing of such vessels.
The early return of INS Chakra to Russia has been a topic being closely monitored by media in both countries. The Russian state media agency TASS, on Wednesday, reported that the explosion onboard INS Chakra, in spring of 2020 which caused damage to both the hulls along with other equipment and machinery of the vessel was behind the early return to Russia. It added that Indian technical engineers and specialists had completed the repair of the hulls and machinery.
But this report was taken down hours after it was on air and the agency issued a statement clarifying that the reports were incorrect. On the other hand, several news agencies in India reported that the early return was on the account of 'increasingly unreliable powerplant and maintenance issues.'
The early return of INS Chakra to Russia comes at a time when the Indian navy has already proposed change to the 30-year submarine plan of India, putting in a request for six nuclear-powered boats.
But, India has already signed a deal in 2019 with Russia worth USD 3 billion, for leasing another Akula class nuclear-powered submarine to be known as INS Chakra III, for the next 10 years. The vessel is expected to be delivered to India by 2025.