Two officers were feared killed in an accident aboard INS Sindhuratna, a Kilo class submarine, after smoke engulfed the warship while undergoing sea trials off Mumbai Wednesday.
The cause of the smoke is not yet known. The incident comes months after the devastating explosions on the INS Sindhurakshak, a sister ship, that killed 18 personnel.
Sources said seven sailors were injured after thick smoke engulfed compartment No. 3 of the vessel, and they were evacuated by a helicopter. However, a Lieutenant and a Lt Commander were trapped inside the compartment that was sealed shut after the fire and smoke.
The officers, who have not been named, were likely helping evacuate sailors from the stricken compartment and have only been declared “missing” by the Navy. Close to 80 sailors were on board.
The accident — there were reports of a minor explosion before the smoke — has come as a shock as the submarine had undergone a six-month refit ending December in Mumbai.
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There were no weapons on board and the Navy said it was returning to Mumbai on its own power. A fire or explosion in the battery pit is suspected to have caused the smoke. An inquiry has been ordered and a detailed inspection will be conducted to ascertain the damage.
“Sindhuratna was at sea off Mumbai for routine training and workup (inspection).
“While at sea in the early hours, smoke was reported in the sailors’ accommodation, in compartment number three, by the submarine. The smoke was brought under control by the crew but two personnel have not yet been located,” a Navy statement said.