In a huge setback to the Indian Navy, the INS Sindhurakshak, India’s most advanced diesel-electric submarine was destroyed after an explosion broke out at a high-security military dockyard in Mumbai.
According to reports, 18 Navy personnel are feared dead and the submerged half of the submarine is still under fire.
The submarine was refurbished in Russia only three months ago for an estimated $78 million and was fitted with the latest an improved warfare system and was expected to serve for at least 10 years more.
This is the second such incident to take place aboard the INS Sindhurakshak albeit much smaller. In 2010, a fire broke out after an explosion occurred in the submarine's battery compartment owning to a faulty battery valve that leaked hydrogen. One sailor was killed and two others injured during that incident.
“The two incidents cannot be compared. One was a minor fire while last night’s incident gutted the submarine. It’s a major loss to the Navy,” said a navy spokesperson.
At least 16 fire tenders rushed to the naval fire brigade to douse the inferno last night.
Another submarine docked close by, the INS Sindhuratna, was reportedly damaged by the explosion but managed to pull away in time.
“An explosion resulting in a major fire took place on board INS Sindhurakshak, a Kilo class submarine of the Indian Navy, shortly after midnight on 14 August 2013. Fire tenders from the Naval Dockyard as well as the Mumbai Fire Brigade were immediately pressed into action. However, due to as yet unknown damage suffered as a result of the explosion, the submarine has submerged at her berth with only a portion visible above the surface. About 18 persons were on board the submarine at the time of the accident and efforts are on to ascertain the safety of the personnel and salvage of the submarine.
A Board of Inquiry is being instituted to investigate into the causes of the accident,” according to an official statement from the Indian Ministry of Defense.