India launched its first nuclear-powered submarine at the Visakhapatnam port in southern state of Andha Pradesh on July 26 in the attendance of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The event let India join an elite club of five other countries, namely the US, Russia, UK, China and France, that can design and construct such vessels.

According to Indian defence officials, the INS Arihant submarine, the first of the five planned to be built in the next few years, is powered by an 85-megawatt nuclear reactor and can acquire a speed of 44 kilometres an hour underwater.

It is armed with torpedoes and 12 ballistic missiles, and carries a crew of 95 men.

The vessel, which can submerge at a depth of 500 m and launch missiles from a depth of 100m underwater, helps India complete its strategic triad for nuclear weapons delivery from the air, the ground and the sea.

It will undergo two years of sea trials in the Bay of Bengal before being commissioned for full service./.