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Friday, February 08, 2008

Do We Still Build Dhows?

Why was I reminded of childhood trips to the Paradise Point? On a holiday father would load us into the creaking Vauxhall, with dhurries and tiffins and off we would go. Past Mereweather tower, past West Wharf, turning right with Lyari on the right and marshes on the left. This is where they used to build dhows. Dhow building was the industry in Kolachi. t

photo courtesy agmgifts

The secret undersea weapon Sandeep Unnithan

Nearly 200 naval officers and technicians are directly involved in the project that is managed by a vice-admiral who functions out of ATV headquarters in Delhi Cantonment. Funding was never a problem, even during the lean days of defence spending, like in the pre-1990s. An estimated Rs 2,000 crore was spent even before work on the submarine was started.

The excessive secrecy, say experts, was based on a misinterpretation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—that building a nuclear submarine would be a violation. There was, therefore, a lack of accountability, which harmed the project.

Project officials in Vizag are now sealing the reactor with a special shield and plugging in the control systems, turbines and piping. The next few months are critical. After the reactor compartment is sealed, the tail sector— which includes the propeller and the shaft—will be welded in and the submarine will be ready. By April next year, the dry dock will be flooded and the vessel will be officially launched.

After it hits the water, the nuclear reactor will be jump-started and the submarine’s propellers— seven highlyskewed brass blades—will be tested. After the reactor and all its associated control systems are successively proven, the submarine will be towed out of the harbour for extensive sea trials lasting over a year before it is inducted into the navy around 2010.


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