No battery malfunction, fire in sailors’ cabin behind Sindhuratna mishap

The Board of Inquiry has found that the fire was not caused in the battery compartment.

New Delhi | Updated: March 4, 2014 9:24:17 am
The Sindhuratna is one of the navy's fleet of nine Kilo class submarines. (Wikipedia) The Sindhuratna is one of the navy’s fleet of nine Kilo class submarines. (Wikipedia)

A preliminary probe into the accident on board the INS Sindhuratna, in which two officers died last week, has ruled out any problems with the battery of the submarine and has found that the cables in the sailors’ accommodation have been burnt down, pointing to a possible short circuit.

While the initial assessment was that a battery pit fire had caused heavy smoke in compartment number 3 of the submarine following which all sailors had to be evacuated, a detailed inspection has revealed that all batteries are undamaged and fully functional.

“An inspection has found that the smoke was emanating from the sailors accommodation that is located just above the battery pit. We also found that certain cables in this accommodation have been burnt down, including some tiles and other equipment,” a Navy officer said.

It is believed that the heavy smoke that was observed in the compartment came from the gutting of these cables, possibly due to a short circuit. As soon as it was detected, the compartment was sealed and the fire extinguishing system was activated. The heroic action of the two officers — Lt Commanders Kapish Muwal and Manoranjan Kumar — who died on board, is believed to have saved many lives on board the submarine. Officials said the two officers rushed to the compartment as soon as alarm bells went out and ordered an evacuation.

Following the evacuation, they sealed the compartment and manned a battery-monitoring station near the sailors accommodation as a battery problem was suspected to have been the reason for the smoke. The duo are believed to have died at the monitoring station after the fire extinguishing system was activated that effectively sucks the entire oxygen of the compartment to put out the fire. Investigations in the accident are still on by a Rear Admiral-led board of officers.

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