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Loss of Indian Navy Kilo class submarine INS Sindhurakshak

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The Indian Navy lost a submarine a Type 877 Kilo Class submarine INS Sindhurakshak(S63) last night after an explosion in the submarine in the Mumbai dockyard. Another Kilo class submarine, INS Sindhuratan(S59) berthed alongside her was damaged.

 

INS Sindhurakshak had returned from Russia after an upgrade  in January that made her capable of firing Club S cruise missiles. She sank to the bottom this morning with 18 of her crew who were inside the submarine, at the time of the explosion, dead.

 

RIP 

 

This is  very sad, and is just a day after the Indian Navy proudly launched the indigenously built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

 

 


MUMBAI: Defence minister AK Antony on Wednesday said that he feels sad about the sailors who lost their lives in the fire on an Indian Navy submarine in Mumbai.

"I feel sad about those Navy personnel who lost their lives for the country," Antony told reporters outside Parliament.

In 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 fate of 18 personnel, including three officers, on board remaining uncertain.

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. The Navy has ordered a board of inquiry to probe the explosion and subsequent fire in the submarine, he 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 on his way to Mumbai. 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.

In Delhi, defence minister A K Antony briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the mishap. Antony told reporters in Parliament that he will be going to Mumbai on Wednesday.

Vice Admiral (retd) A K Singh said an internal explosion in a submarine could be caused by either material failure or by not following standard operating procedure.

He said he suspected that hydrogen gas generated during charging of the batteries of the submarine could have led to the fire which could have spread to the missile compartment area of the warship, causing the massive explosion.

In 2010, a fire broke out on board 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 submarine from Russia as part of a deal in the early 1980s and the warship was commissioned in 1997. It was the ninth of the 10 'Sindhugosh' class diesel- electric vessels that the Navy has in its 16-strong 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.

 

 

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Some of these men may not be alive today

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Edited by ghostrider883

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While a fire at sea is more dangerous, it's not THAT much more dangerous than one in port. Sounds like this happened too fast for them to save it.

Edited by JediMaster

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Fires on subs or any ship are always dangerous, but in port with just a minimal watch keeping crew on board very serious. As one submariner to another RIP! :salute:

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Look at that fireball, that looks like one of the cruise missiles ignited while being locked into the hull, the chain reaction would be incredible. Anyone know if this was the vessel that test fired the BrahMos super sonic cruise missle back in March? Incredible loss but this could have been an all hands loss if it had happened underway. S! to those that lost their lives.

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Look at that fireball, that looks like one of the cruise missiles ignited while being locked into the hull, the chain reaction would be incredible. Anyone know if this was the vessel that test fired the BrahMos super sonic cruise missle back in March? Incredible loss but this could have been an all hands loss if it had happened underway. S! to those that lost their lives.

Submarine launched version of the Brahmos has not yet been deployed operationally(some IN frigates and destroyers armed with  the ship launched variant). The submarine launched was test fired from a submerged pontoon in March this year.

 

From initial reports and according to eye witnesses, Club S cruise missiles were being loaded on the submarine when this explosion occured. It was due to sail out  to VIshakapatnam Port a day later( the IN submarine base on the eastern coast). The batteries were charged three days earlier to this accident.  

 

 

 

INS Sindhurakshak tragedy: Hopes fade as Navy divers fail to find missing sailors

 

MUMBAI: Hampered by poor visibility and water inside the INS Sindhurakshak submarine that exploded and sank, Navy divers on Thursday struggled to locate the 18 trapped personnel on board who are feared killed. 

As the hopes for the survival of the sailors in the multiple explosions in the naval dockyard on early Wednesday receded, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh voiced deep pain at the accident. Three officers were among the 18 personnel. 

 

"The trapped personnel have not yet been sighted or recovered," a Navy release said, as diving and salvage operations continued round the clock. 

 

"The diving efforts are hampered by poor visibility inside submarine which is filled with water, extremely restricted access and displacement of most equipment from their original location," the release said. 

 

The heat of the explosion has melted parts of the internal hull deforming the submarine hatches and has prevented access to the compartments. 

 

Heavy duty pumps are being used to pump out the water from the submarine, the release said, adding there has been large scale ingress of sea water into the submarine due to the explosion. 

 

"We are deeply pained that we lost the submarine, INS Sindurakshak in an accident yesterday. Eighteen brave sailors are feared to have lost their lives," the Prime Minister said in his speech on the 67th Independence Day. 

 

"The accident is all the more painful because the Navy had recently achieved two major successes in the form of its first nuclear submarine, INS Arihant and the aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant," he said. 

 

In one of the worst disasters to have struck the Navy, a series of explosions rocked its submarine INS Sindhurakshak at the dockyard in Mumbai sinking it partially in the shallow sea. 

 

On Wednesday, Navy chief Joshi Admiral DK Joshi, who accompanied defence minister AK Antony, did not rule out the possibility of a sabotage but said that the indicators so far do not support such a theory. 

 

He had also indicated that there was little hope of survival of 18 personnel on board the submarine. 

 

The diesel-electric submarine was commissioned into the Indian Navy in 1997 at a cost of around Rs 400 crore and had gone through a Rs 450 crore extensive upgrade in Russia. 

 

The 2300-tonne Kilo class submarine, powered by a combination of diesel generators and electric batteries, had potent weapons package including the anti-ship 'Club' missiles.

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Five bodies recovered so far, all burnt and disfigured beyond recognition  :sad: . Efforts are on to partially lift the submarine to the surface to recover the bodies of the dead sailors.

 

 


INS Sindhurakshak: Navy sticks to ‘accident’ story behind submarine disaster
 
Preliminary assessments show "a plain and simple accident" in the "fully-loaded" weapons compartment of INS Sindhurakshak, which caused "sympathetic detonation" of some missile and torpedo warheads, probably led to the sinking of the Kilo-class submarine in Mumbai on Wednesday.
 
Though holding that the board of inquiry (BoI) headed by senior submariner Commodore Deepak Bhist will pinpoint the reason, top naval sources on Friday virtually ruled out hydrogen gas leakage, "a major material failure", or sabotage being responsible for the disaster.
 
This then leaves "mishandling of ammunition" as the most plausible reason for the massive explosions that even "ejected" a Klub-S cruise missile out of the vessel. Asked about this, the sources said even if "mishandling" was the case, it was "more of an accident" rather than "lack of training or expertise".
 
"Something could have slipped from someone's hand ... a device could have malfunctioned. We don't know yet since the mangled submarine is still underwater. But the 18 on board were highly-experienced, including three officers and three `underwater weapons specialist' petty officers (junior commissioned officers)," said a source.
 
INS Sindhurakshak, with a full complement of 18 missiles and torpedoes, was set to sail on "a long deployment patrol" early on Wednesday morning. The submarine's second-in-command or executive officer Lt-Commander Nikhilesh Pal, a bachelor, was on board for the final "prepare sub for sea" when something went drastically wrong.
 
"The torpedo air flask, which contains compressed pure oxygen, could have exploded due to something even if the exploder mechanism had not been inserted into it. Sympathetic detonation would have followed since the missiles and torpedoes are stacked together in the six tubes and the 12 racks behind them," said the source.
 
Rejecting hydrogen gas leakage as a "dim possibility", the sources said the 240 lead acid batteries, each weighing around 800kg, on the submarine were "brand new" after its over two-year $156 million refit in Russia.
 
" Old batteries emit more hydrogen. The maximum amount of hydrogen is emitted while batteries are being charged ... the process had been finished in INS Sindhurakshak over two days before the mishap. Moreover, Hydrogen levels are continuously monitored by duty-watch sailors," he said.
 
Similarly, the possibility of "a major material failure" is being discounted since the submarine had undergone extensive sea-trials, checks and certification processes after its refit. "INS Sindhurakshak had already finished 1,000 dived hours after the refit. If there was a defect, it would have been detected and rectified during the operations as well as the regular `turning of arms' drills during everything is powered on," he added.
 
Sabotage also looks "highly-unlikely" because it would require "a long chain of conspirators and insiders" who could get access to the submarine guarded round-the-clock while it was berthed in harbour. "Nothing, of course, can be completely ruled out till the forensic examination of the submarine and the exact sequence of events established during the BoI," he said.
 
Had it been any other submarine than one of the Sindhughosh/Kilo class that went up in flames late on Tuesday night, the damage at the Mumbai dock would have been massive, potentially devastating for nearby ships as well as buildings that house the Western Naval Command.
 
When the INS Sindhurakshak — the most modern of the Kilo class in service with India — suffered the explosion, the submarine contained the massive impact within its double hull structure. So massive was the impact that the entire interior of the vessel got sealed due to the heat and pressure generated from at least two explosions that were recorded.
 
Unlike most conventional submarines that comprise a single pressure hull within which all compartments, systems and quarters are housed, the Russian origin Kilo class had an outer hull as well, designed specifically to withstand blasts. The twin hulls ensured that the impact did not escape the vessel, but came at the cost of the men on board who most likely did not survive the initial blast.
 
The Navy on Thursday released the names of all personnel who were on board the Sindhurakshak at the time of the accident:
S No.     Name of Officers, Rank
01          NIKHILESH PAL,  LT CDR, XO
02.         ALOK KUMAR,     LT CDR
03.         R VENKITARAJ,   LT CDR
 
S No.       Name of Sailors, Rank
04.        SANJEEV KUMAR, PO UW I
05.        KC UPADHYAY, PO UW I
06.        TIMOTHY SINHA, PO UW I
07.        KEWAL SINGH, LS UC I
08.        SUNIL KUMAR, SEA I UW III
09.        DASARI PRASAD, MECH® 2
10.        LIJU LAWRENCE, LEMP
11.        RAJESH TOOTIKA, LME
12.        AMIT K SINGH, STD I
13.        ATUL SHARMA, SEA I
14.        VIKAS, E SEA I
15.        NARUTTAM DEURI, ME I
16.        MALAY HALDAR, EMR II
17.        VISHNU V, RO II
18.        SEETARAM BADAPALLI, LS RP I
______________________________
 
Sources said that if a single hull submarine had suffered the explosion that sunk the Sindhurakshak — India's other class of Shishumar/HDW Type 209 is single hulled — the impact would have engulfed surrounding warships and submarines, causing massive casualties. The ruptured hull would have also thrown out the heavy armament load in the warship, causing potential explosions in the surrounding area.
 
"The Mumbai dock is one of the most congested areas where warships are placed. The large number of ships and submarines in a small place make it very vulnerable to accidents. There is perhaps no other place in the world where warships are docked so close to each other," said an officer. Immediately after the explosions on the submarine, the Navy moved out all its warships from the dock to ensure their safety.
 
There have been at least three significant accidents at the Mumbai naval harbour in the last four years, mostly due to the congested sea lanes, given the heavy commercial traffic in the area. In June 2010, two Navy Kilo class submarines — INS Sindhuratna and INS Sindhukesari — were involved in an accident when one of them grazed the other at a very low speed in the harbour, resulting in minor damage to both the vessels.
 
The biggest accident before Tuesday night was in January, when the INS Vindhyagiri, a heavily armed frigate, went down at the Mumbai harbour after a collision with merchant vessel M V Nordlake.
 
According to sources, the Mumbai dock is so congested that at times three submarines have to be docked next to each other due to lack of space. In the case of the Sindhurakshak too, it was docked with the Sindhuratna when the accident took place. The double hull contained the explosion, giving rescue teams enough time to remove the Sindhuratna that suffered only minor damage to its casing.
 
"We shudder to think what would have happened if the Sindhurakshak was docked on the outer side and the Sindhuratna was caught between the burning submarine and the dock side. It would have been very difficult to extricate the vessel," the officer added.
 
The only solution, officials said, is to decongest the Mumbai harbour by moving out warships to other bases on the western coast. However, due to lack of planning and paucity of resources, there has been no development of large naval bases to house new warships. The Karwar base in Karnataka, which is currently being expanded, is the one place where the Navy will move out its warships from Mumbai in the near future.
 
 

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It's unfortunate that harbor is so congested. Under other circumstances this incident could have been even more tragic.

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Tales from inside the INS Sindhurakshak: Divers say what they are going up against
 
 
The second the Indian Naval Ship (INS) Sindhurakshak went down, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that from that moment onwards, the only entity standing in between life and certain death for those 18 trapped inside was the tightly knit community of the Indian Navy (IN) divers. Pressed into service almost immediately, the performance of these 30 odd men from the Command Clearance Diving team of the Western Naval Command (WNC) and the INS Abhimanyu - Navy's closely guarded commando training centre across the harbour - remains the only silver lining in the otherwise tragic episode.
 
Notwithstanding any of their abilities, fact remains that no one in the Indian Navy had even imagined an operation of this type will be ever required. "As divers our task and training is always in the combat arena like laying mines in the enemy harbour or sabotaging enemy ships/submarines. Rescue of this type had never been imagined," said one of them.
 
As result, before the divers could begin working on the sunk INS Sindhurakshak, sitting in waters not deeper than 10 metres, they familiarised themselves with another Kilo-class submarine which had been berthed alongside. In addition to that, detailed maps and diagrams of the submarine have been placed at the site of the sinking by the Navy. It was also ordered that the residual crew of the INS Sindhurakshak, including the Commanding Officer (CO), Commander Rajesh Ramkumar and the other officers and men make themselves available at the site all the time. And given that earlier it was the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Admiral DK Joshi and now the chief of WNC, Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha who is literally camping at the site, there is an unmistakable air of urgency all around.
 
"We work in shifts of eight hours and there are three such shifts, which means these operations carry on whether day or not", said one of them. However, divers need to surface every three hours and then go back in. The deeper one dives, the faster is the loss of energy from the body, so divers come up, revive and take the plunge again.
 
"In a nutshell, we are inserting ourselves blindfolded into an unfamiliar, constricted, flooded compartment full of live missiles and torpoedos to search for the bodies of our colleagues," summed up a diver familiar with the operation. The biggest impediment is, naturally, near zero visibility and lack of depth. "We can otherwise insert underwater material which on inserting below the submarine gains buoyancy and automatically floats it when we complete pumping out the water. That is not an option here," it was mentioned.
 
On speaking to the divers, it was understood that most of the bodies were being found in the alleyway of the sub which means that the crew, perhaps alerted by the fire, was attempting to make an exit when the explosions claimed them all. Not surprisingly, doctors of the state-run JJ hospital say that the five bodies brought to them show that those men had died of burns and not drowning.
 
In the course of operating inside a submarine, there are those chilling moments too. "Since we can't see a thing, we rely on our hands to feel and indicate. Sometimes we accidentally cause bodies or parts to get released or gain buoyancy and it is almost like we are confronted by them. At such times, our training and buddy see us through," recounted one of the divers.
 
Then there are inherent risks of such operations. For example, inside the Sindhurakshak, there are six compartments inter-connected by four hatches. These hatches have completely fused due to the tremendously high temperatures during the explosions on board. This necessitates use of underwater cutters which create a build-up of hydrogen gas. If unchecked, this can trigger further explosions. There is also the need to secure the diver's umbilical/lifeline which can easily get entwined in the narrow alleys of a mangled submarine and jeopardise the diver's safety. It is to counter such an eventuality that while the divers operate, a supervisor sits atop on shore alongwith a complement of attendants, spare diver and rescue equipment.
 
"We can talk to them if we are wearing Diver's Underwater Communication System (DUCS) helmet but that may not always happen as the narrow ways of the sub often don't permit that. Then we communicate using pre-decided codes of pulling the rope to indicate our needs", explained a diver.
 
The most satisfying moment for the diver can also be a heartbreaking one. Explained a diver, "Our job is to locate our dead colleagues. It may so happen that we may pass a place many a times without feeling the body but when we finally manage locating it, we tie it to a rope, lead it to the conning tower and climb up first, so that it can pulled up and out of the submarine. Till now, all the bodies have been brought out that way. When a body, however is brought, a small ritual is followed before it is sent to the medical authorities. While it is pulled up, everyone stands up and before sending it, it gets the final salute from none less than the Commander-in-Chief. This is being done for every single body."
 
"During our initial days, even though we would get into another submarine to understand the structure of Sindhurakshak, on getting into it, it would almost be as if we went blank. So we kept coming out and going back to train ourselves. We did this many a times."
 
"When we got the first body pulled up, it was then that we realised just how bad the body's condition was. Completely gutted, deformed and rotting. We couldn't eat and we still can't."
 
Edited by ghostrider883

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