Moscow: Russian Navy will hand over its newly built nuclear submarine to India on a 10-year lease by end of this year and the Indian crew was ‘absolutely prepared’ to take its charge, the Russian Naval Chief said on Friday.

"We will hand this submarine to the client by the year end," Naval Chief Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky was quoted as saying by an agency. "The Indian crew is absolutely prepared for operating the submarine," he said.

Earlier last month a top official of the defence cooperation service said the Indian naval crew was already on board the K-152 Nerpa nuclear submarine and was carrying out pre-delivery trails on the high seas.

Under the lease contract, estimated to be between USD 650-900 million, India had funded the completion of the Nerpa nuclear submarine at Amur Shipyard before the Soviet collapse.

The Nerpa was to be inducted into the Indian Navy like INS Chakra by mid-2008 but on November 8, 2008, shortly after the sea trials commenced, as many as 20 sailors and technical workers were killed onboard, while they were asleep, due to the release of toxic Freon gas following a technical problem in the automatic fire suppression system in the vessel.

The Pacific Fleet's Naval Court currently hearing the case has established that a seaman pressed the button of fire suppression system ‘out of curiosity’.

Captain of the submarine has also been charged for ‘abuse of authority’ by allowing the use of a cheaper toxic mixture of Freon gas in the fire suppression system.