In this post, you will learn about nuclear submarines. We will learn how nuclear submarines are classified, what is ballistic missile submarine, their strategic importance and development of nuclear submarines in India. Finally, I will give you 4 reasons why India needs more nuclear submarines? So let us begin.
What is a Submarine?
Basically, any naval vessel that is capable of propelling itself beneath the water as well as on the water’s surface is submarine. Recently, INS Arihant, India’s first nuclear ballistic missile submarine, has completed its first “deterrence patrol”.
Classification of Submarines
- Diesel Electric Submarines (DES): DESs are conventional submarines. Diesel engines and electric motor power the DESs. Examples are INS Sindhughosh, INS Sindhurantan etc in India.
- Nuclear Powered Submarines (NPS): Nuclear reactor is used to power NPS. NPSs are independent of air. So, they are efficient than DES (need not come to the surface frequently). Also, NPS is much bigger in size. Currently, India has 2 NPS i.e. INS Arihant and INS Chakra. Most noteworthy, INS Arihant is built in India whereas INS Chakra is leased from Russia.
SSN- Submersible Ship Nuclear-powered:
- SSNs are hunter submarines or the attack submarines.
- Technically, the Navy uses these submarines to destroy submarines and other combat ships. Also, SSN does not carry long-range missiles.
- Interestingly, the Navy is planning to build at least six SSNs in India. It will boost the Indian Navy’s underwater capabilities.
- Practically, Navy uses SSNs to escort Aircraft carrier warships, protect the naval bases. Also, they can hunt other submarines in the Indian Ocean Region.
SSBN- Submersible Ship Ballistic Nuclear-powered:
- SSBN has the capability to launch ballistic missiles. They can fire missiles thousands of kilometres. Remember the word B denotes ballistic i.e. the ship has launching capabilities and N denotes that ship is nuclear powered.
Strategic Importance of Nuclear Submarine
- Credible Nuclear Deterrent: India’s nuclear strategy is based on the principle of Credible Minimum Deterrence. It underlines no first use (NFU) with an assured second strike capability and falls under minimal deterrence as opposed to mutually assured destruction. So, Nuclear submarines provide that desired credibility and survivability of nuclear weapons.
- Greater Powers: Add great power status to the Indian Navy.
- Better than DES: Nuclear submarines are bigger, better, tougher and versatile than conventional submarines.
- Technologically advanced than conventional submarines: High-quality sensors, powerful weapons, can remain submerged in water for the longest time and so on.
Now let us focus on the main topic of the post –
Why India needs Nuclear Submarine?
- Notably, barring some top-tier navies such as the U.S. Navy, Royal Navy and French Navy, no other submarine operating state has completely done away with conventional subs.
- Geopolitically, developing maritime states like India cannot afford to overlook the practical utility and effectiveness of a nuclear submarine in South Asia’s littoral spaces.
- As discussed earlier, nuclear submarines are technically better than conventional submarines. The powerful weapons and sensors they host far outweigh the combat capabilities of conventional submarines.
- Also, air-independent propulsion technology and fuel cells have made it possible for conventional submarines to remain underwater much longer.
- While India’s “No first use” nuclear policy mandates the establishment of “triad” of air, sea and land deterrence capabilities. Nuclear submarines are an important leg of the Indian navy capabilities.
The Indian navy has been undertaking modernisation by focussing on class destroyers, frigates and nuclear-powered submarines, with a focus on stealth features and modern cruise missiles on board. These developments have to be seen in the larger context of India’s Act East Policy, with special attention towards maritime diplomacy.
So, this is all from my side for now. If you have any query comment below or DM on Instagram.
Also, read – Principles of India’s foreign relation.