The loss of INS Sindhurakshak, one of India’s prominent nuclear submarines that went down in flames in the early hours of Wednesday, is of course a setback to the morale of the navy, and a thorough probe must be initiated at the earliest delving into the causes that triggered the unfortunate explosion, killing 18 staff members trapped inside its blast furnace.
The Indian Navy diesel-electronic submarine was recently handed back to India after a two-year refurbishing process at Russia’s Zvezdochka shipyard, and it’s a shame that despite over 18 million USD being spent on the refit programme, the submarine underwent a tragic and ill-fated burial at sea. The submarine, that was docked in the high security naval dockyard, had earlier experienced a fire episode in October last year, and an investigation into the fatal accident must now begin to see if the exorbitant overhaul process, signed in June 2010, was of no consequence to adequately rejig the Russian-origin nuclear submarine.
Several adjustments such as the installation of equipment for Klub-S cruise missiles and over 10 other Indian and foreign-made systems, as well as upgrading the radio communications systems were carried out and the sea trials were undertaken in October 2012 to satisfaction.
It, therefore, needs to be established what could have caused the fatal explosion that ended the service life of INS Sindhurakshak.
Russian claims that the boat’s military capacity and safety were raised by several notches must be now taken with a pinch of salt, although it must also be established whether there was any security breach leading to the astounding tragedy and the unnecessary loss of lives. INS Sindhurakshak was part of a four-member fleet team, the Singhghoshas, all of them being diesel-electronic vessels. Launched in 1997 and laid down in one of Russia’s oldest shipyards, the Admiralty Wherf yard in St Petersburg in 1995, the vessel pointed to an admirable lineage and symbol of longstanding Indo-Russian partnership in defence deals.