Russia has finally handed over the long-awaited Akula II-class K-152 Nerpa nuclear-powered attack submarine to the Indian Navy after more than two years of delays.

The 110m-long, 8,140t submarine, to be renamed INS Chakra, was slated for delivery to India in mid-2008, but this was rescheduled to June 2010 following an accident caused by the triggering of the vessel’s fire-suppression systems during a 2008 trial in the Sea of Japan. Following the re-fit, Indian naval teams have undergone training for several months on the nuclear-powered vessel.

The submarine emits very low levels of sound while operating underwater, making it difficult for enemy warships and helicopters to detect it. The Nerpa is expected to bridge the operational gap between now and the commissioning of the indigenously built nuclear submarine INS Arihant, which will join the fleet later this year.

The Akula II-class submarine has a strike range of 3,000km and is armed with 28 nuclear-capable cruise missiles, whereas the Indian version is expected to be integrated with 300km Club nuclear-capable missiles. The submarine can cruise at a maximum speed of 30 knots, operate at depths of 600m and has an endurance capacity of 100 days. Capable of accommodating a crew of 73, the vessel is armed with four 533mm torpedo tubes and four 650mm torpedo tubes.

It is capable of firing torpedoes and Granat cruise missiles, and is the first nuclear-powered submarine to be operated by the Indian Navy since the decommissioning of its Soviet-built predecessor in 1991. India will be the sixth country to operate nuclear submarines along with the US, UK, France, China and Russia.