Soviet submarine K-43

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Project 670 INS Chakra leased to the Indian Navy
INS Chakra on its way to India in the 1980s
Soviet Union
Name: K-43
Builder: Gorky
Laid down: 9 May 1964
Launched: 2 August 1966
Commissioned: 5 November 1967
Recommissioned: February 1991
Decommissioned: 30 July 1992
In service: 1967–1988; 1991–1992
Fate: Sold for scrap
Name: Chakra
Commissioned: 1 September 1987
Decommissioned: January 1991
In service: 1987–1990
Homeport: Vishakhapatnam
Fate: Returned to Soviet Union after 3 years
General characteristics
Class and type: Charlie-class cruise missile submarine
  • Surfaced: 4000 tons
  • Submerged: 5000 tons
Length: 95 m (312 ft)
Beam: 10 m (33 ft)
Draught: 8 m (26 ft)
Propulsion: One pressurized water-cooled reactor powering two steam turbines delivering 11,185 kW (14,999 shp) to one shaft.
  • Surfaced: 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
  • Submerged: 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph)
Range: Unlimited except by food supplies
Complement: about 100
  • 8 x SS-N-7 Starbright anti-ship cruise missiles
  • 6 x 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes (12 torpedoes or 12 SS-N-15 Starfish anti-submarine missiles)

K-43 was a Charlie-class nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine operated by the Soviet and Indian navies. It was built between 1964 and 1967 and was commissioned into the Soviet navy on 5 November 1967.[1] It later served as INS Chakra in the Indian Navy from 1988 to 1991.

It was leased to India on 1 September 1987 and reached its base in Visakhapatnam on 3 February 1988 after a long journey. The Soviets said that the submarine was transferred for helping train the Indian Navy in operating nuclear submarines. During its service with India, it was partially manned by a Soviet crew,[2] who reportedly did not allow Indians into the missile room and into the reactor compartment and this is believed to be a reason for the termination of the contract after 3 years.[3] The lease of Chakra reportedly helped India gain first-hand experience in handling a nuclear submarine that helped them build the Arihant class of nuclear submarines.[4]


K-43 had a length of 94 m (308 ft) overall, a beam of 10 m (33 ft) and a draft of 8 m (26 ft). It displaced 4,000 tonnes (3,900 long tons; 4,400 short tons) surfaced and 5,000 tonnes (4,900 long tons; 5,500 short tons) while submerged. The complement of the submarine was about 100.[5]

The boat had one five-blade propeller powered by a VM-5 pressurised water reactor. It can achieve a maximum speed of 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph) when surfaced and 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph) when submerged. The K-43 could carry up to 8 SS-N-7 Starbright nuclear capable anti-ship cruise missiles. It had six 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes which could carry 12 torpedoes or 12 SS-N-15 Starfish anti-submarine missiles.[5]


In October 1986, the Soviet Politburo declared that they intend to transfer a Charlie-class submarine to India for training purposes. It was the first time a nuclear submarine was ever transferred to any other country.[6] It was decided so as to prove Soviet Union's commitment to strengthening India. But some politicians expressed serious negative consequences due to the transfer. However, the politburo headed by Gorbachev decided that the political benefits outweighs the concerns.[6]

The Soviets, during the lease to India, would regularly inspect the submarine and handle the nuclear fuel. The Soviet media stated that the submarine would not carry any nuclear weapons.[7]

Transfer to India[edit]

A new naval base was constructed at Visakhapatnam with the help of the Soviet Union for handling the submarine.[8] An Indian crew reached a training centre at Kirova for a two-year training course. The Indian Ambassador, Nurul Hasan, visited the Indian crew during this time.[9]

Operational history[edit]

The submarine was built between 1964 and 1967 and was commissioned into the Soviet navy on 5 November 1967. After returning to the Soviet Union after its lease to India, it continued to be in service with the Soviet Navy and was finally decommissioned on 30 July 1992 and sold for scrap.[1]

Service in the Indian Navy[edit]

The submarine left for India on 5 January 1988 from Vladivostok and was commissioned into the Indian Navy on the same day. It passed through the South China Sea and Malacca Strait where it was escorted by an Indian frigate, INS Dunagiri.[10] It was constantly tracked by American and Australian P-3 Orion aircraft throughout the journey. It arrived at Visakhapatnam on 2 February 1988.[9] The submarine was welcomed by the Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, the Defence Minister, K. C. Pant, the Chief of Naval Staff, G. J. Nadkami, and the commander of Eastern Naval Command, Vice Admiral S. C. Chopra, who sailed in the submarine into the sea.[9][10]

Chakra took part in the Presidential Fleet Review of 15 February 1989 at Mumbai when it was watched by millions of Indians on television. Transfer of the submarine gained widespread coverage in the international media with Time Magazine calling India an "Awakening Power", while the Washington Post called it an "Oriental Bully".[9] The Chakra served in both the eastern and western fronts during her service.[10] As the lease agreement ended, Chakra departed to the Soviet Union from Visakhapatnam on 16 December 1990 and was escorted by INS Savitri throughout its journey. It was decommissioned in January 1991.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Podvodnye Lodki, Yu.V. Apalkov, Sankt Peterburg, 2002, ISBN 5-8172-0069-4
  2. ^ Indian Defence Year Book. Natraj Publishers. 2006. 
  3. ^ David Miller (2002). The Illustrated Directory of Submarines of the World. Zenith Imprint. p. 393. ISBN 9780760313459. 
  4. ^ Pradeep Barua (2005). The State at War in South Asia. U of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0803213441. 
  5. ^ a b "Project 670 Skat / Charlie I". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Artemy Kalinovsky, Lecturer Sergey Radchenko (2011). The End of the Cold War and the Third World: New Perspectives on Regional Conflict. Taylor & Francis. p. 68. ISBN 9781136724305. 
  7. ^ Jiampietro, Joseph A. (March 1988). "India Leases Soviet Nuclear Submarine". Arms Control Today. Arms Control Association. p. 27. JSTOR 23623927. (Subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ Vijay Sakhuja (2011). Asian Maritime Power in the 21st Century: Strategic Transactions : China, India and Southeast Asia. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2011. p. 290. ISBN 9789814311090. 
  9. ^ a b c d Mihir K. Roy (1995). War in the Indian Ocean. India: Lancer Publishers. pp. 120–124. ISBN 9781897829110. 
  10. ^ a b c d G. M. Hiranandani (2005). Transition to Eminence: The Indian Navy 1976–1990. Lancer Publications. ISBN 9788170622666.