After a spate of accidents over the past few weeks brought focus on the falling safety standards of the Navy, the force has finally moved to act on the matter and has relieved the Commanding Officer (CO) of a frontline frigate that mowed down a fishing vessel off Maharashtra coast last month.
The Navy has also constituted a board of inquiry into the grounding of the INS Sindhurakshak — a kilo class submarine — near the Mumbai naval base.
The Navy, which has come under flak after a series of seven accidents over the past seven weeks that were reported by The Indian Express, has also decided to hold a media briefing at the Kota House on Tuesday.
The CO of the INS Talwar, the lead ship of its class, has been relieved from his command of the vessel pending a board of inquiry into the December 23 incident when the frigate ran over a fishing vessel off Ratnagiri coast, resulting in 27 persons ditching into the sea, sources said.
The board of inquiry into the accident, which happened barely 10 miles off the coast, is already in progress. Also, after Defence Minister A K Antony asked for a report into the matter, the Navy has constituted a board of inquiry into the grounding of the INS Sindhugosh that got into trouble during low tide near the Mumbai port.
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The Navy has come under criticism for a spate of recent accidents which have all been described as “minor” by officials.
However, the series of such incidents has pointed to training, operational and management flaws within the force as well as on dockyards.
As reported, the latest incident that has jolted the Navy is damage suffered by the INS Betwa — a Brahmaputra class guided missile frigate — which is suspected to have either run aground or collided with an unidentified object on its approach to the Mumbai naval base.
On Navy Day (December 4) India’s leading minesweeper, the INS Konkan that was undergoing repair work in Vizag, caught fire suffered major damage to its interiors.
The Naval HQ in Mumbai was also hit by an accident when the ICGS Sangram, a patrol boat, was undergoing a refit at the naval docks and accidentally fired a 30 mm round through the building of the Naval Command.
Other recent accidents include INS Tarkash — a Talwar-class frigate — suffering damage to its hull when it hit the jetty while docking.
An incident also came to light on the INS Vipul that had suffered a breach while sailing after a refit.