The navy is moving in fast to fix accountability for the spate of accidents that recently hit its frontline warship with rapid-pace inquiries that have now thrown up several reasons for the incidents — from errors by the captains commanding the ships to faulty equipment and substandard quality of material.
With serious concern being raised by the highest levels of the government on the safety record of the navy that last month led to the resignation of Navy Chief Admiral D K Joshi, expedited boards of inquiry have been instituted that have now come up with preliminary reasons for incidents.
Sources said strict action would be taken in accordance with the findings of the inquiries and accountability is being fixed at the earliest to ensure that these are not repeated. Other than the sinking of the Sindhurakshak, which has still not been salvaged, most other major accidents have been investigated, officials have confirmed.
Consider the following: In the most recent case — the fire on board the Sindhuratna submarine that led to the death of two officers — it has emerged that an electrical cable caught fire after a possible short circuit. The fire is believed to have taken place at an electrical cable that is concealed behind a panel that is not supposed to be checked during the entire life of the Kilo class submarine.
Reports of issues in the batteries of the boat were incorrect since its batteries had been replaced with those brought from Vizag on the insistence of the Western Naval Command. The navy has found that the incident involving INS Talwar, the frontline frigate that smashed through a fishing vessel on December 23 resulting in injuries to several people, took place due to inadequate organisation on board the warship. The commanding officer of the ship has now been removed.
The Tarkash incident, when it met with an accident while berthing at the Mumbai naval base and suffered a gash in its hull, has been blamed by the inquiry on a ship handling error by the commanding officer, who is believed to since have been posted out. The INS Betwa accident, the Brahmaputra class guided missile frigate that was suspected to have either run aground or collided with an unidentified object on its approach to the Mumbai naval base and suffered a crack on its sonar dome mounted on the hull, has been attributed to a navigational error by its commanding officer who has since been removed from duty by the board of inquiry.
The incident involving the INS Sindhughosh, the leading submarine of the Kilo class that was ‘grounded’ near the Mumbai naval base on January 17, has been found to have occurred as the Mumbai harbour has not been dredged for four years due to objections by the Financial Advisor that have since been overruled by the Western Naval Command HQ.
The cause of the incident on board the INS Vipul, the Veer class corvette that suffered a breach in its tiller compartment, has been found to have occurred due to faults in the steel plates that were made by SAIL. The plates apparently cracked, leading to flooding in the ship that has since been sent back for repairs.