Indian Eastern Naval Command

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Last Updated: November 19, 2013
Other Name: N/A
Location: Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India
Subordinate To: Indian Navy, Ministry of Defence (MoD), Government of India
Size: N/A
Facility Status: Operational

India’s first indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant, was constructed at the Eastern Naval Command’s home-port of Visakhapatnam. The INS Arihant is a ballistic missile submarine that will be armed with up to twelve nuclear-capable K-15 Sagarika submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). [1] Its nuclear reactor went critical on 10 August 2013. [2]

Officially, the Eastern Naval Command is headed by the Flag Officer Commanding in Chief, Eastern Naval Command (FOC-in-C East). The FOC-in-C East serves under the Chief of Naval Staff, who in turn serves under the Government of India and its President, the Supreme Commander of Armed Forces of India. [3]

In 1974, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi initiated the Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) program aimed at developing nuclear-propulsion vessels for the Indian Navy. This was done in the wake of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, when United States and Soviet nuclear fleet deployments influenced the resolution of the conflict. In 1985, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi accelerated the project and began work to secure a nuclear submarine from the Soviet Union. [4]

The Indian Navy eventually secured a lease on the Russian submarine K-152 Nerpa, named the INS Chakra in January 2004. The INS Chakra, an Akula-class attack submarine powered by a nuclear reactor, was commissioned for the Indian Navy on 4 April 2012. [5] The Indian Navy uses the INS Chakra to train and prepare its sailors for operating nuclear submarines. [6]

India’s Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) conducted the Sagarika SLBM’s test trials off the East Indian coast, outside of Visakhapatnam. The nuclear-capable Sagarika SLBM has a range of 750 kilometers. The missile was first tested in February 2008. [7] During these tests, the Sagarika SLBM launches were conducted from a submersible, unmanned pontoon. Additional tests will be conducted from the Indian Navy’s INS Arihant ballistic missile submarine. [8] The DRDO is also currently developing the K-4 SLBM, predicted to be an intermediate-range missile. [9]

Coinciding with naval congestion at the port of Visakhapatnam due to the Eastern Naval Command’s construction projects, the command is slated to be relocated 50 kilometers south of the city of Visakhapatnam, around the village of Rambilli. The new naval base, tentatively referred to as the Naval Advanced Operating Base (NAOB) or Project Varsha, is planned to have underground submarine pens for the Eastern Naval Command’s expanding fleet of nuclear submarines. [10]

[1] “SSBN Arihant Class Submarine, India,”
[2] T.S. Subramanian, “In a First for India, Nuclear Sub’s Reactor Activated,” The Hindu, 11 August 2013.
[3] “Naval Organisation,” Indian Navy,
[4] Jyoti Malhotra, “How India’s Pride INS Arihant was Built: A Look at How India’s First Nuclear Powered Missile Submarine Came Into Existence,” Business Standard, 12 August 2013.
[5] “Submarines Active,” Indian Navy,
[6] Rajat Pandit, “Accident on Russian Submarine Meant for India Kills 20,” The Times of India, 9 November 2008.
[7] Monika Chansoria, “India’s Missile Programme: Augmenting Firepower,” India Strategic, October 2009,
[8] Ranjit B. Rai, “The Inside Story of SLBM K-15,” Indian Defence Review, 11 February 2013,
[9] T.S. Subramanian and Y. Mallikarjun, “K-15 All Set to Join Arihant,” The Hindu, 27 December 2012.
[10] Rajat Pandit, “India Readies Hi-tech Naval Base to Keep Eye on China,” The Times of India, 26 March 2013; Anubhuti Vishnoi, “First Underground Navy Base Hits Green Hurdle,” The Indian Express, 25 April 2013.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2019.