Indian Navy’s ‘Stealthy’ Nuclear Submarine Base In World’s Largest Bay Set To Puncture Chinese PLAN

Deep beneath the tranquil shores of Rambilli village in Andhra Pradesh, a subterranean marvel is taking shape—INS Varsha, India’s covert and formidable nuclear submarine base. This $3.75 billion megaproject spans a vast 20-square-kilometer area, with a network of tunnels bored into a mountain to allow stealthy submarine operations.

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India’s strategic naval project, INS Varsha, an underground base for nuclear submarines, is under construction near the coastal village Rambilli in Andhra Pradesh, about 70 km from the Vishakhapatnam base. Operated by the Eastern Naval Command headquartered in Visakhapatnam, this cutting-edge naval base on India’s east coast will serve as a key point in the Bay of Bengal.

The project covers an area of 20 square kilometers and will accommodate at least 10 nuclear submarines, which are expected to be fully operational by 2025-2026.

The base’s construction involves extensive engineering efforts, including the creation of numerous tunnels into a mountain, large piers, and support facilities.  While the exact cost is unknown, estimates suggest it will reach $3.75 billion.

Crown Jewel Of Eastern Naval Command

INS Varsha – nuclear submarine base’s proximity to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), India’s primary nuclear research facility associated with its nuclear weapons program, indicates Rambilli’s suitability as a clandestine naval base site.

The location was chosen for its unique underground chambers, which enable submarines to enter and exit the base through tunnels without surfacing and avoid detection by enemy spy satellites. This ensures the covert deployment of India’s nuclear submarines.

INS Varsha will house repair and maintenance facilities and amenities for crew rest. Its size will accommodate large nuclear submarines like the Arihant class, the upcoming S5, and nuclear attack submarines.

Creating A New Naval Hub Near Visakhapatnam

Visakhapatnam, home to the Headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command, serves as a base for over 50 warships of the Indian Navy, utilizing its landlocked natural harbor as an ideal position for naval operations.

However, the current Visakhapatnam port often encounters congestion due to heavy civilian container traffic and visiting ships. In response, the establishment of INS Varsha seeks to offer specialized infrastructure and amenities tailored to naval needs, aiming to reduce interruptions from commercial port operations. By segregating naval activities from civilian maritime traffic, this new base will bolster the Navy’s operational efficiency and preparedness in the area.

INS Varsha is a strategically designed submarine base to house India’s nuclear-powered submarines, both ballistic missile (SSBNs) and attack (SSNs) variants. The base boasts state-of-the-art infrastructure, including modern docking facilities, repair yards, and munitions storage.

It will be equipped with sophisticated command and control systems for real-time coordination of naval operations. Additionally, the base features advanced stealth and security measures to safeguard sensitive assets and maintain operational secrecy.

India’s Answer To China’s Naval Ambitions

INS Varsha’s significance extends far beyond India’s shores, resonating across the vast Indo-Pacific expanse.

Amidst China’s growing naval assertiveness and the escalating Sino-Indian rivalry in the Bay of Bengal (the largest bay in the world with an area of about 839,000 square miles), this formidable base represents a potent counterbalance, bolstering India’s credible deterrence capabilities and safeguarding its strategic interests.

In the last few years, China has been actively bolstering the underwater naval capabilities of several littoral countries in the Bay of Bengal in recent years. In the Bay of Bengal, Sino-Indian competition has become increasingly significant as India seeks to maintain its dominance amid China’s expanding presence.

China’s proactive involvement in South Asia has added complexity to the regional dynamics, particularly concerning India’s underdeveloped underwater naval capabilities. The disparity between Indian and Chinese naval strengths is stark, especially in the undersea domain, due to budget and warship-building capacity differences.

INS Varsha aims to bolster India’s credible nuclear deterrence capabilities. Simultaneously, it serves as a regional counterbalance, addressing the increasing Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). By enhancing India’s naval prowess, INS Varsha strengthens the nation’s strategic position in the maritime domain.

The Western Seaboard witnessed eight submarines operating together in a recently concluded exercise in the Arabian Sea, demonstrating their high levels of Op Readiness.

Expanding Maritime Influence In Indo-Pacific

The establishment of INS Varsha carries significant implications regionally and globally, showcasing India’s escalating maritime ambitions and its commitment to safeguarding interests across the Indo-Pacific.

INS Varsha will be helpful for strengthening cooperative security frameworks with the United States, Japan, and Australia under the Quad alliance. It also paves the way for potential technological collaborations and joint ventures with international partners. By enhancing naval capabilities, the base contributes to regional deterrence and stability.

INS Varsha augments India’s capability to project naval power and influence across the vast Indo-Pacific maritime expanse. This strategic base enables the Indian Navy to conduct operations beyond regional waters, extending its operational reach to farther seas and oceans.

Project Varsha is set to significantly bolster the Indian Navy’s strategic and operational capabilities. By providing a secure and advanced facility for India’s naval assets, it strengthens India’s maritime defense posture, enhances regional stability, and marks a pivotal advancement in India’s maritime strategy.

Enhancing Maritime Security & Combat Readiness

INS Varsha plays a crucial role in enhancing the Indian Navy’s strategic capabilities, especially in accommodating and managing nuclear submarines and other essential maritime assets.

It enhances maritime security by facilitating anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean and safeguarding vital sea lines of communication (SLOCs) crucial for trade and energy transportation.

Additionally, INS Varsha enhances the combat readiness of both submarine and surface fleets by providing specialized facilities, thereby improving logistics and maintenance infrastructure and ensuring faster turnaround times for naval assets.

INS Varsha stands as a resounding testament to India’s unwavering resolve to fortify its maritime prowess and cement its status as a preeminent naval power in the Indo-Pacific region.

This audacious engineering feat, meticulously carved into the very bedrock, transcends its physical grandeur to symbolize India’s strategic vision – a vision that embraces cutting-edge technology, fosters international partnerships, and resolutely safeguards the nation’s interests on the high seas.

  • Shubhangi Palve is a defense and aerospace journalist. Before joining the EurAsian Times, she worked for E.T. Prime. In this capacity, she focused on covering defense strategies and the defense sector from a financial perspective. She offers over 15 years of extensive experience in the media industry, spanning print, electronic, and online domains.
  • Contact the author at shubhapalve (at) gmail (dot) com