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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Final trials of Russia's Nerpa sub threatened by lack of funds

RIA Novosti

11:20 08/10/2009 KHABAROVSK, October 8 (RIA Novosti) - Preparations for the final trials of Russia's Nerpa nuclear attack submarine before it is commissioned with the Navy could be hit by financial problems, the head of the Amur shipyard said on Thursday.

The Nerpa, which was damaged in a fatal accident during tests in November last year, has been docked at the Amur shipyard's Vostok repair facility in the town of Bolshoy Kamen in Primorye Territory since the end of new sea trials following repairs.

"The sea trials under the shipyard's supervision have been completed on time. The submarine returned to its current base for preparation for final tests, but we have run into some problems," said Nikolai Povzyk, the Amur shipyard general director.

"We have not yet received payments for work that has been already done, and today the electricity supply to the Vostok facility was cut [by a local electricity supplier] because we have not been able to pay our debts," the official said.

The shipyard was promised an estimated 1.9 billion rubles ($60 million) in government funds in the beginning of October to cover the cost of the repairs.

On November 8, 2008, while the Nerpa was undergoing sea trials, its onboard fire extinguishing system went off, releasing a deadly gas into the sleeping quarters. Three crewmembers and 17 shipyard workers were killed. There were 208 people, 81 of them submariners, aboard the vessel at the time.

After induction into the Russian Navy, the Nerpa is expected to be leased to the Indian Navy by the end of 2009 under the name INS Chakra.

India reportedly paid $650 million for a 10-year lease of the 12,000-ton K-152 Nerpa, an Akula II class nuclear-powered attack submarine.

Akula II class vessels are considered the quietest and deadliest of all Russian nuclear-powered attack submarines.

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