Russia has confirmed its readiness to transfer its Nerpa nuclear-powered attack submarine for a 10 year-lease to India, The Times of India reported on Wednesday citing defense ministry sources.
According to the paper, Russia and India quietly firmed up the 10-year lease of the K-152 Nerpa submarine during Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's visit to New Delhi last week.
With the final lease and training agreements now in place, India is dispatching a 50-member submarine crew, including 8-10 officers, to Russia to train on the Akula-II class nuclear submarine, the paper said.
"The Indian naval team will be leaving within 15 days. They will first undergo intensive training on the Nerpa and then bring it to India on the 10-year lease,'' a defense ministry source told the paper on Tuesday.
Akula II class vessels are considered the quietest and deadliest of all Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines.
The lease follows an agreement inked between New Delhi and Moscow in January 2004, with India funding part of the Nerpa's construction at the Komsomolsk-on-Amur shipyard in the Russian Far East with an initial $650 million, the paper said.
The Nerpa was scheduled to be inducted in the Indian Navy as INS Chakra by mid-2008 but technical problems delayed the process. After that, just as it began its sea trials in November 2008, 20 sailors and technical workers were killed on it due to a toxic gas leak when the automatic fire extinguishing system malfunctioned. After repairs, the Nerpa is now fully operational, the paper said.
NEW DELHI, March 17 (RIA Novosti)