INS Sindhurakshak decommissioned four years after submarine accident claimed 18 lives

After nearly four years of an explosion and subsequent fire onboard INS Sindhurakshak that claimed 18 lives, the Indian Navy has decommissioned the submarine, reported The Indian Express.

 INS Sindhurakshak decommissioned four years after submarine accident claimed 18 lives

File image of Indian Navy divers on an inflatable craft next to the conning tower of diesel-powered INS Sindhurakshak. AFP

The decision was taken after two Board of Inquiries (BoIs) constituted by the Ministry of Defence suggested that the kilo-class diesel-electric submarine is not “seaworthy” and “not fit to sail again”.

The submarine however will not be scrapped unlike most of the other decommissioned navy vessels.

The Ministry of Defence will decide whether the vessel will either be used for target practice or be sunk into the sea, the report added.

According to another report in, the submarine could be used as a training platform for navy sea divers.

The divers presently train at the Cochin Diving School and also at Submarine training school in Vishakapatnam. In both places, however they are trained under simulated conditions — in specially built tanks, where changes in weather and sea conditions are difficult to replicate.

Having a real submarine deep in the sea for the training of divers would be of immense value to them, reported quoting a source.

The blast had taken place onboard Sindhurakshak on 14 August 2013 while it was berthed in Mumbai and was preparing to leave for a routine operation. The explosion took place in the forward compartment where the weapons bay was located.

In an internal inquiry it was found that critical Standard Operating Procedures were violated which triggered the explosion in the ordinance on board, reported

A year later, the 16-year-old submarine was airlifted and anchored at South Backwater in the Naval Dock following salvage operations by Resolve Marine India Ltd for about Rs 240 crore, reported The Times of India.

India had bought INS Sindhurakshak in 1997 for $113 million and later upgraded it for $156 million (around Rs 800 crore).

The accident, perhaps the worst in the submarine-arm of the Indian Navy, has spurred the Navy to put in place strict remedial measures for instance, "rigid safety audits and examination by operational commands prior to sorties” NDTV reported three years ago quoting then navy chief Admiral Robin Dhown.

Incidentally, this was not the first major accident to befall Sindhurakshak.

In February 2010 a fire had broken out aboard the submarine when the vessel was in Visakhapatnam. One sailor was killed and two others were injured. Navy officials reported that the fire had been caused by an explosion in the submarine's battery compartment.

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Updated Date: Jun 13, 2017 14:27:18 IST