The Indian Navy has officially commissioned the Akula II-class K-152 Nerpa nuclear-powered attack submarine, the INS Chakra.

Defence Minister AK Antony said: "INS Chakra would no doubt play a major role in reshaping maritime operations of the Indian Navy in the years to come and ensure security, sovereignty and economic prosperity of the country."

The ten-year lease follows a $650m accord between India and Russia, signed in January 2004, to lease the Nerpa vessel in a move to enhance the country’s defence capabilities.

The 8,140-tonne INS Chakra vessel can be equipped with four 533mm and four 650mm torpedo tubes.

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The Russian-made vessel has a maximum speed of 30 knots and can operate at a maximum depth of 600m.

The submarine, which can accomadate a crew of 73, has a dived speed of 30-35 knots and can remain underwater for over three months at a time.

The nuclear-powered submarine emits very low levels of sound while operating underwater, making it difficult to detect by enemy warships and helicopters.

The Akula II-class submarines have a strike range of 3,000km and are armed with 28 nuclear-capable cruise missiles, whereas the Indian version is expected to be integrated with the 300km Club nuclear-capable missiles.

The INS Chakra vessel is expected to bridge the operational gap until the commissioning of the indigenously built nuclear submarine INS Arihant for the Indian Navy later this year.

India will be the sixth country to operate nuclear submarines along with the US, UK, France, China and Russia.

Russia is currently modernising the 45,000t aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, formerly Adm Gorshkov, at the Shemash shipyard for the Indian Navy, which is expected to join the fleet in early 2013.