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Serial tragedies mark the Indian Navy

Mishaps and accidents leading to loss of irreplaceable lives of sailors and invaluable loss of submarines which are one of the costliest resources of the Indian Navy have marked the past year. The Indian Navy suffered its latest setback yesterday on February 26, 2014, when smoke emerged from the battery compartment of a kilo class submarine INS Sindhuratna during an exercise off the coast of Mumbai. According to reports a leakage in the battery compartment was the cause of fire causing suffocation to the sailors on board. 80 naval personnel were on duty on the Sindhuratna when the incident took place in the early morning hours. With this tragedy there has been as many as 10 incidents involving naval vessels since August last. Naval chief Admiral DK Joshi resigned from his post accepting moral responsibility for the incidents with 17 months remaining for his tenure to end.

In January 2014 INS Sindhughosh an advanced submarine of the Indian Navy which was fully armed had ran aground at the naval harbor in Mumbai carrying 70 sailors. After being struck for over four hours it was tugged back during high tide. The ship INS Vipul of the 22nd Killer Missile Vessel Squadron was found having a hole in its pillar compartment which became a doorway for water when on an operation 70 nautical miles off Mumbai. The shameful stories are true and have continued unhindered indicating something was amiss in the Indian Navy. These instances occurring at regular intervals points out to the lacuna among the top ranked officials and the defense ministry who are both responsible for the maintenance of the fleets of naval vessels and safety of their personnel.

INS Airavat a shardul-class amphibious warship suffered minor damages with its propellers running aground while returning to the harbor. The crew’s miscalculation was responsible for the mishap and hence Commander JPS Virk was dismissed from his duty. The Sound Navigation and Ranging system of warship INS Betwa belonging to the Brahmaputra class of ships was spotted having a hairline fracture. INS Tarkash which is a stealth talwar-class frigate hit the jetty damaging its hull. On November 9, 2012 navy’s frontline frigate INS Talwar collided with a fishing trawler near the Ratnagiri coast in Maharashtra which sunk on the spot. Under the eastern naval command INS Konkan a class M-72 ship a mine sweeper caught fire at the dockyard in Visakhapatnam.

The final nail in the coffin came via the worst accident of them all in which a blast and fire on INS Sindhurakshak a kilo class submarine killed all 18 sailors on board when it exploded and sank. Today the navy confirmed that two of its officers from submarine INS Sindhuratna have died. Seven sailors had suffocated due to toxic fumes had been airlifted to a hospital in Mumbai. Vice Admiral Robin Dhovan has been made the acting Navy chief. Indeed it is time that the Navy rectified its errors and launched a series of planned steps to rectify their unbelievable losses.

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