December 3, 2012

Arihant's reactor nowhere near ready.

Click to enlarge toward readability
[Pete's Comments: This June 2012 article describes what must be major reactor development hurdles for Arihant's reactor. It seems unlikely that the reactor is mature enough to be permanently fitted in Arihant, let alone functional.]

Article reads in part:

"The miniature 83 MWe pressurized water reactor (PWR) fuelled by highly enriched uranium was developed with the help of Russians. The submarine was launched into the water last year  [2011?] and began its “sea acceptance trials” (SAT) earlier this year wherein it was taken out of the harbor to conduct crucial trials.

“The nuclear reactor was fitted into the submarine for the first time some time back. And since it is first time that India has built a miniature nuclear reactor for moving platform it has to be tested when the submarine undergoes various kinds of motion like rolling and pitching,” sources said.

“The reactor since then has been taken out of the platform and the teething problems witnessed during the trial are being addressed to. The process will be repeated several times to make it foolproof."

[Pete's Comments: Determining the real timelines of Arihant's development [was it only launched in 2011?]  is not helped by bizarre comments from retired Admirals].

The Deccan Herald, November 10, 2012 reported :

"INS Arihant will miss December [2012] deadline"
"Kalyan Ray, New Delhi, Nov 10, 2012, DHNS:
Nuclear reactor yet to produce energy to propel the submarine
The INS Arihant, India's first nuclear-powered submarine, will not go for its much-awaited sea trial by December—the deadline set by the Navy.

The 80 Mwe nuclear reactor on-board the submarine is yet to be functional more than three years after the submarine was launched in water. The reactor is yet to produce the energy required to propel the 6000-tonne submarine.

The non-functioning of the Arihant nuclear reactor has more to do with the completion of a large number of other systems and components inside the submarine vessel rather than any problem with the nuclear reactor.

“At the earliest, Arihant can go for sea-trial only in 2013,” sources in the department of atomic energy told Deccan Herald.

Former Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma had stated that the Arihant will be on sea patrol by December 31, 2012.

[Pete's Comments: Note Admiral Verma is retired - so he is not accountable for his comments. This is total Indian Navy propaganda. Sea patrol would come at the end of completed system development, a substantial period of problem free reactor functioning at sea, working up trials and the crew becoming suffficiently efficient in using Arihant. Check back in 2015 for any genuine "sea patrol."]

Asked to comment on whether the Navy still stood by that deadline, a defence ministry official declined to make any comment on Saturday.

The nuclear submarine, capable of remaining underwater for a month without surfacing, also has a diesel backup for emergency situations in the deep sea.

The hush-hush launch of the 104 mt-long Arihant inside a closely guarded dockyard in Visakhapatnam in 2009 marked the end of a 25-year long journey to developed an indigenous nuclear-powered submarine.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, his wife, Gursharan Kaur, Defence Minister A K Antony and then National Security Adviser M K Narayanan were present at the launch.

Even though there is no official admission, sources said Rs 7,000 crores had been spent on Arihant . Only the US, UK, Russia, France and China operate nuclear submarines.

“Everything was made in India up to the last nuts and bolts. Also the industry was not well developed when we started. We faced a lot of problems on materials,” said a nuclear scientist who was closely associated with reactor development.

But when the submarine was launched in water in July 2009, many systems and components were not in place. Over the last two years, the project management team was putting the instruments in place. The circular design of the submarine’s interior panel made the job more complicated for the team.

“More than 150 systems have to work simultaneously for the submarine to operate,” the sources said.

When inducted, the INS Arihant will complete India’s nuclear triad giving New Delhi second strike capability from the land, air and sea in case of a nuclear attack. At the moment, the N-submarine has 125 K-15 short range ballistic missiles with a one-tonne nuclear warhead, which can hit the target at a distance of 700 km. Eventually they will be replaced by 3500 km range submarine launched ballistic missiles, which are currently under development.

Construction has also begun for the second nuclear-submarine and its nuclear reactor as numerous systems and components are being readied. But the final assembly for the reactor as well as the vessel is yet to start."



Mazo said...

Hey Pete, since when is "sea-trial" equal to "sea-patrol" ??

Sea-trials or "shakedown" as is the parlance in the USN is hardly equal to "sea-patrol".

Pete said...

Hi Mazo

Thanks for you comments – although you’re highlighting a distinction that I’ve already made.

If you look at the second article you’ll note it states:

“Former Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma had stated that the Arihant will be on sea patrol by December 31, 2012.”

You’ll notice in my Comment below that, that I do distinguish between what I said were “working up trials” (and I don't mention "sea-trial" ) which are one preliminary process to eventual “sea patrol”.

I commented:

“Sea patrol would come at the end of completed system development, a substantial period of problem free reactor functioning at sea, working up trials and the crew becoming sufficiently efficient in using Arihant.”