18 sailors/officers on board feared dead; probe ordered

The Navy is yet to ascertain what triggered the explosions in its submarine INS Sindhurakshak at the Naval Dockyard here last night.

Eighteen sailors, including three officers, on board are feared dead.

Chief of Naval Staff Admiral D. K. Joshi said prima facie evidence suggests a minor explosion first in the torpedo chamber of the submarine which is suspected to have caused the bigger blast as there was ammunition in the chamber.

Assessing the impact on the Navy, he said: “This is certainly a dent on the submarine force levels for the time being. Once we are able to assess the extent of the damage, we will know better.”

India has a fleet of 14 submarines. All other vessels in the vicinity of INS Sindhurakshak were largely un-affected by the incident, naval authorities informed.

INS Sindhurakshak, which was commissioned into the Navy in 1997, returned from Russia in April after extensive refurbishment.

The Navy has ordered a board of enquiry, which will submit its report in four weeks.

The tragedy comes soon after the country did itself proud launching its first indigenously developed aircraft carrier at Cochin Shipyard earlier this week.

On Sunday, the country also activated a nuclear reactor to power one of its submarines.

satyanarayan.iyer@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 14, 2013)
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