Submarine sinks after blasts, 18 navymen missing

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navalMumbai, August 14;After a series of deafening explosions, the Indian Navy’s Kilo class submarine INS Sindhurakshak sank with 18 sailors on board around midnight on Tuesday at the naval dockyard in Mumbai.

Witnesses heard the explosions from the dockyard late Tuesday night and within moments the sky was lit up with a burst of orange flames following by white light. The vessel was completely damaged due to the fire.

Of the 18 crew, three were officers and 15 sailors. There has been no communication with any of the crew after the incident.

“While we can hope for the best we have to be prepared for the worst,” said Admiral D.K. Joshi, Chief of Naval Staff, on Wednesday in a press conference held inside the naval dockyard. Three sailors who were on top of the submarine immediately jumped in to the sea after the explosion. They sustained minor injuries and were later taken to navy’s INHS Ashwini Hospital.

Rescue operations are in full swing with naval divers making all the efforts. “The hatch of the conning tower has been opened so the rescuers can enter inside. It was fused due to excessive heat after the explosion. There have been examples where people have survived in the worst of conditions. We have not lost hope,” Admiral. Joshi said. The submarine is resting on the sea bed at present, with only the conning tower outside water. Rescue operations however are getting delayed due to muddy water and almost no visibility, as the submarine has sunk very near to the dock.

“Once all sides of the submarine are studied and checked for openings, we will start pumping out the water. It will lessen the weight of the submerged ship, so it can come on surface,” he said.

Admiral. Joshi did not state the reason for the explosion but said that some of the ordnances at the forward end of the submarine seem to have exploded. It was recently refurbished in Russia, with extensive modification. The damage to the torpedo compartment at the forward end of the submarine resulted in its flooding.

There was a submarine next to INS Sindhurakshak which caught fire because of radiation and explosion. A fire official said that the flames were doused immediately and the other submarine was towed away. “Our first job was to contain the fire and ensure it didn’t engulf the second submarine too,” said deputy fire officer Prabhat Rahangdale. Even while conducting the operations, there were a series of minor explosions.

At least 16 fire tenders of the Mumbai Fire Brigade and Mumbai Port Trust were at the spot, with nearly 180 fire personnel fighting the fire. Mr. Rahangdale said that the fire was contained within three and a half hours after which the divers and the naval teams took over.

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