Submarine INS Sindhurakshak sinks after major blast in Mumbai; all 18 feared dead | Deccan Chronicle
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Submarine INS Sindhurakshak sinks after major blast in Mumbai; all 18 feared dead

Agencies | 14th Aug 2013
Picture of the fire on the submarine - Photo by Rahul Purshottam (@rhlprap) via Twitter
Picture of the fire on the submarine - Photo by Rahul Purshottam (@rhlprap) via Twitter

MumbaiIn a major setback to the Indian Navy, a submarine caught fire after a massive explosion and sank in the dockyard here early on Wednesday, with the 18 personnel, including three officers, on board feared dead.

The explosion resulted in a major fire breaking out on board INS Sindhurakshak, a Russian-made Kilo class submarine of the Indian Navy, shortly after midnight, they said. The fate of 18 persons on board the 2,300 tonne submarine, powered by a combination of diesel generators and electric batteries, is being ascertained, a defence spokesperson said.

Navy fears that all 18 officials on board INS Sindhurakshak may have been perished, sources said.

Navy will bounce back: Experts

Confirming loss of lives in the mishap, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said, "It is the greatest tragedy of recent times, I feel sad about Navy personnel who have lost their lives."

Antony briefed PM Manmohan Singh on the submarine mishap and will visit the accident site in Mumbai. 

The rescue personnel were unable to open hatches to enter the damaged submarine, sources added. Internal explosion inside the submarine is the reason behind explosion, said earlier reports. 

"We will not give up until we get to them," navy spokesman P.V.S. Satish had said earlier.

The Navy has ordered a board of inquiry to probe the explosion and subsequent fire in the submarine, the spokesperson said. Fire tenders from the Naval dockyard as well as the Mumbai Fire Brigade were immediately pressed into action, he said. However, due to the explosion, the submarine has submerged at the dock with only a portion visible above the surface, a defence statement said.

TV footage of the incident showed a huge ball of fire triggered by the explosion lighting up the night sky in Colaba area where the Navy dockyard is located. The statement said efforts are on to ascertain the safety of the personnel and salvage the submarine.

Navy Chief Admiral D.K. Joshi is also on his way to Mumbai.

A fire brigade official said that around 3am, the blaze had been brought under control and prevented from spreading to other vessels docked in the vicinity. 

The submarine had returned after a major upgrade programme in Russia 3-4 months ago and was capable of carrying a potent weapons package including the anti-ship 'Club' missiles.

INS Sindhurakshak was not on active duty at the time of the accident, Navy sources said. The incident has come at a time when the Navy is faced with a depleting submarine fleet.

Commodore (retd) Uday Bhaskar, a former IDSA director, said since the rate of induction of new platforms has not kept up with the kind of wear and tear that a submarine would undertake, the net result is that the Navy's submarine fleet is depleting and the operation load is increasing.

"The fact that the Sindhurakshak (incident) has happened, it is going to have its own adverse impact," he said. 

The explosion and fire comes a day ahead of India's Independence day. Sources said another submarine, INS Sindhugosh (not Sindhuratna as reported earlier), was towed away after some time in order to avoid more fire and damage. Navy sources said there has been no damage to INS Sindhughosh after explosion on INS Sindhurakshak.

The 16-year-old INS Sindhurakshak had returned after a major upgrade programme in Russia 3-4 months ago and is armed with a potent weapons package including the anti-ship Club missiles. 

A file photo of the submarine - via Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, a fire mishap took place on the INS Sindhurakshak leaving a sailor dead and two others injured. That mishap was caused by an explosion in its battery compartment. India had bought the 2300-tonne submarine from Russia as part of an early 1980s deal and commissioned it in 1997.

It is the ninth of the 10 Sindhugosh class diesel-electric powered vessel that the Navy has in its 16-vessel submarine fleet. In the last few years, there have been several mishaps involving naval vessels. In 2008, another vessel of the Kilo class, INS Sindhugosh, collided with a merchant vessel off Mumbai while participating in a naval exercise.

In 2011, a surface warship INS Vindhyagiri caught fire when it collided with a merchant vessel near the Mumbai harbour while returning from a picnic with families of group of officers deployed on board. On its way back, it hit another ship leaving the harbour. Nobody was injured but the warship was virtually ruined. 

Next: INS Sindhurakshak fully operational after refit: Russia


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In pictures: Submarine explodes in Mumbai

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Inder's picture
by Inder (not verified) on
That is a new front of action opened by our enemies across the border...., and our spineless , pseudo-secular creatures would still like to hug them , dine and dance with them , shake their ugly legs and hands with them...!! Shame upon their depth of intelligence and crude understanding of International politics...!!!
Anand Kumari's picture
by Anand Kumari (not verified) on
@ Inder - do you really have some correct intelligence info about the cause of explosion in the submarine or it is your habit to blame others.
AZHAR SHAIK's picture
by AZHAR SHAIK (not verified) on
well said anand kumari - we must show our talent solving the problems and must not indulge the political scenarios in the national interests.
Prathiba's picture
by Prathiba (not verified) on
Painful Tragedy. Condolences to the People and Family of the deceased. If it is a sabotage or terrorist action, the authority should conduct an unbiased investigation. Do not forget the heinous terrorist actions took place in India, including the Killing of Mahatma Gandhi by Sangh Parivar Terrorists, Killing of Indira Gandhi by Sikh Terrorists, Killing of Rajiv Gandhi by Tamil Terrorists, Destruction of Babri Masjid by Hindu Terrorists and so on..... Be Truthful always in investigations!
N Vijay Shastry's picture
by N Vijay Shastry (not verified) on
We often come across report of this kind of incidence in our country, be it submarine of Russia, US or any other country, how much Commission Congress must have taken in the refurbishing/refitting of the submarine costing India massive dollars. I think Navy might have recruited someone non-meritorious person to look after the submarine, even our defense forces are now full of corrupt Officials of Congress breed otherwise Pakistan can never defeat Indian Armed forces. It is our Politicians and Defense Ministry that is letting our Armed Forces down. on our border, the enemy is able to regularly intrude deep in our territory and kill our soldiers without any loss of life to the enemy, I am ashamed but not guilty what has been posted rather for what that is going on in this country. Life has no value, irrespective of whether you are civilian or soldier, for our Congress Government. I respect our military, Air force & Navy for their sincere work. Our Congress Parliament is full of Desh Drohis selected by our Italian Lady. This looks like ploy to divert attention of people from Vadra & Pakistan LOC issue. The bureaucracy is scared because they don't follow the rule bring Mr. Narendra Modi and solve this conundrum. Mr. Narendra Modi is someone who has all the talent to lead the world's largest democracy. JAI-HIND
Rajesh Walia's picture
by Rajesh Walia (not verified) on
@ N Vijay Shastry - you say to bring Modi ji to solve all problems. Running a state is not the same running a country. The only talent Modi has is of pointing mistakes of others and blaming the government. You foolishly think his becoming PM all problems of India will vanish. - Pakistan and China will stop border attacks. - All men will become saints and daily rapes will stop. - No one will be poor. Every one will have a job. Do you realise what will happen if Modi fails in solving the above some problems. Example it happened before - with Tendulkar - once upon a time he was God of Cricket. Now people want him to stop playing cricket.
Narendrareddy's picture
by Narendrareddy (not verified) on
it doesn't required any correct int. reports, already our IB reported about threat, keeping inview of independence day. We also experienced previous attacks and on mumbai via sea way. whatever it may but its a huge loss to us.
CharlieK's picture
by CharlieK (not verified) on
Hmm... Russian made military equipment seem to be a good deal, looking at specifications & prices. However, in an encounter with an adversary the user of Russian made stuff more often than not comes out second best. In addition: there are far more accidents with Russian made equipments than western supplied armaments. A to this sub. it probably carried concentrated hydrogen peroxide as propellant for its torpedoes; these torpedoes have been a cause of serious accidents in the past.


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