India's first nuclear submarine, the Arihant, will enter a phase of sea trials this year, the DRDO's new chief Dr Avinash Chander has said, expressing confidence that there would be no more delays in the landmark effort. The submarine is currently in an extended phase of harbour and systems trials. The boat's pressure water nuclear reactor is yet to be tested, and this could take a few more months before scientists and engineers at the Shipbuilding Centre (SBC) in Visakhapatnam achieve the confidence levels required to put the Arihant out to sea for confirmatory sea trials.
In August last year, then Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma had said, "We're pretty close to putting her to sea. In submarine design, there's an element of unpredictablity. It's a hugely complex exercise. Sometimes, unexpected problems do come up. But I can say that in the next few months, she'll be ready for sea trials." Since that time, certain hiccups have cropped up, slowing down progress towards sea trials. A second hull has already been fabricated by L&T in Gujarat and is to be the second of the Arihant-class of submarines for what will be a total fleet strength of at least three SSBNs.