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Divers open 2nd access to sub

Navy divers entered the torpedo compartment of sunken submarine INS Sindhurakshak late Saturday evening.

Navy divers entered the torpedo compartment of sunken submarine INS Sindhurakshak late Saturday evening. So far they have searched the control room,the third compartment and aft section,covering nearly 60 per cent of the vessel. “Teams of 20-25 divers have been working round the clock and have begun to search the foremost compartment,the torpedo section and the aft end,” a Navy spokesperson said,adding that the divers are searching each compartment multiple times. “Since it is pitch black inside the visibility is very low,the divers are feeling every inch of the submarine. They are making several passes of each compartment as they might not locate the bodies in the first pass,” he said.

The Navy is also looking for ways to raise the destroyed submarine off the seabed even as search operations to locate the remaining 13 personnel continue,officials said. Ever since the kilo-class submarine sank after being rocked by two explosions and a fire Tuesday,it has has been filled with water,weighing presently at its maximum capacity of 7,000 tonnes. However,the Board of Inquiry (BoI),which was announced soon after the mishap,has to be complete the probe in three weeks,leaving the Navy with a race against time.

“Even though the BoI cannot begin until we have recovered all the bodies,we are looking at ways to reduce the buoyancy of the submarine and lift it up to the surface,” said an official. The Navy is contemplating roping in international experts to help them salvage the vessel.

Late Friday night,Navy divers gained a second access to the submarine after prising open the rear escape hatch which was submerged and jammed due to high temperatures. They presently enter through the conning tower and aft escape hatch and are attempting to open the jammed forward escape hatch for an entry to the front of the submarine. The fourth and fifth bodies were recovered on Friday night and sent to the INHS Asvini. The fifth body was found in the one of the forward compartments.

After a post-mortem was conducted Friday at the J J Hospital,the bodies were sent to the Kalina Forensic Sciences Laboratory (FSL) for DNA identification. The FSL,which has a backlog of several cases,has prioritised the DNA identification and will work overtime. “Special teams have been formed,” said Dr. M. K. Malve,Director,FSL.

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