In what could be a major setback to India's defence preparedness, Russia has indefinitely postponed the delivery of Akula-II class Nerpa nuclear submarine, citing that sea trials were still incomplete.
"The pre-delivery trials have been postponed by the Amur Shipyard as it has no trial crew and is running short of cash," Far Eastern edition of Kommersant daily reported on Wednesday.
The Amur Shipyard is yet to constitute a new trial team for these class of nuclear submarines after November 8 accident in which 20 members of the trial team were killed during the subs sea trials in Sea of Japan, the paper said.
It said the new team would not be ready before March 2009, and would have to undergo a year long refresher course before it could be authorized to resume pre-delivery trails.
Under the larger Gorshkov package with Russia, the Indian Navy was to get first of the two Shchuka-B project nuclear submarines on lease last year. But later the Russians revised the delivery schedule to August 2009.
The submarines are being acquired to train the Indian crews for the indigenous submarines being developed under Advanced Technology Vessel project.
"Some members of the trial team, which was on the submarine during last year's accident have died, some are medically unfit, while some others have refused to go to the sea due to psychological reasons," Gennady Bagin, Director of Vostok- a unit of the Amur shipyard, was quoted as saying by the daily.
The accident-hit nuclear submarine is berthed at the cash-strapped Vostok plant and some work is still underway on it despite the cut in the power quota due to non-payment of power bills.
India and Russia have still to renegotiate the deal for the refitting of the aircraft carrier Gorskov with Moscow demanding double the negotiated price of $ 2.5 billion.
The delivery of the warship is already delayed till 2012 and now it appears that Russians may not be able to meet the new deadline for the supply of nuclear submarines too.