The loss of the INS Sindhurakshak there is no official word yet but sources say that the twin explosions will result in a total write-off for the vessel is a crippling blow for the Indian Navy which already stacks up poorly when it comes to underwater capabilities.
Not only was the vessel the Navys most modern submarine,having returned just three months back after extensive refit and modernisation in Russia,its loss means that 20 per cent of Indias underwater fleet is now inoperable. The remaining are at the very end of their service lives and have been given extensions to ensure they remain operational.
While the authorised strength of the Navy is 24 conventional submarines,the actual strength has been steadily decreasing over the past few years with the decommissioning of the older Foxtrot class of Russian vessels.
According to the current record books,India has only two classes of submarines four older generation HDW 209 Shishumar class and 10 Russian origin Kilo Sindhughosh class submarines which the Navy considers as its cutting-edge fleet. Even this on-paper strength is not adequate to protect Indias 7,500 km coastline,forget about operations in faraway waters.
Of the 10 Kilo class submarines,two are currently undergoing a refit that could stretch over years. The INS Sindhukirti has been undergoing a refit at the Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) since 2003,with many in the Navy giving up hope that it will ever sail again. The newest of the Kilo class,the Sindhushastra,too is up for refit at HSL.
The refitted Sindhurakshak its Rs 815-crore modernisation plan gave it the latest land and ship attack missiles,a new sonar system and a Porpoise radio locater to detect enemy warships was to render service for another 15 years.