In line with India developing a secret nuclear city, it is developing secret base for the Indian Navy.
What is INS Varsha?
Project Varsha is one of the secret projects undertaken by Indian government to provide Indian Navy underground secret bases off the east coast of country in an order to protect nuclear powered submarines that would form one of the third nuclear deterrence platforms of India.
It was planned to be located within a radius of approximately 200 kilometres from Visakhapatnam, which are the headquarters of the Navy’s Eastern Naval Command. But the base is being developed at Rambilli, 50 km from Visakhapatnam.
What is the need of INS Varsha?
INS Varsha would de-congest the Visakhapatnam Port, which is used by both the Navy and the civilian Ministry of Shipping. The Navy’s dockyards at Vizag are facing shortage of berthing space due to the rapid expansion of the Eastern fleet, which grew from 15 major warships in 2006 to 46 in 2012, and is still expanding.
What are its advantages?
INS Varsha will have a large near-by facility of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), and will include modern nuclear engineering support facilities and extensive crew accommodation.
It will also have underground pens to hide the submarines from spy satellites and protect them from enemy air attacks. The navy is seeking foreign technical assistance pertaining to nuclear safety features for the base.
INS Varsha would have undisclosed access tunnels on the mouth of deep water base and highly protected shelters along with jetties that are meant for demagnetizing submarines and is a conspicuous addition to the base facilities.
The biggest advantage of having underwater deep bases that the submarines do not need to surface on the water, they can come and go from the base through multiple underwater tunnels that open directly to the deep sea and lead straight from the secret base.
In any kind of conflict submarines are one of the most offensive platform of nuclear deterrence thus they can do their job well while not being detected by adversaries. The underground bases also provide highest protection than the ordinary bases on the coast shores provides, the underground bases are known to maintain top level of secrecy from any kind of threat including the satellite intelligence.
When will it be completed?
The construction of underground base started in 2009 but has struck several times due to finance crunch. INS Varsha would be accompanied by a weapon storage facility called ‘Missile Technical Positions near the underwater base.
₹160 crore were sanctioned for the project in the 2011-12 budgets, of which ₹58 crore were for civil works and the balance were for setting up a VLF communication system.
For the security reason, it is still highly classified that how big and capable the underground base would be but the base reportedly could docked some 8-12 nuclear powered submarine that are under construction and are being planned. The Varsha would be capable of housing other vessels of navy in forms of destroyers, frigates and replenishment ships.
China has a similar base in the Hainan Islands.