Even within the fleet of 10 Kilo class submarines,the Sindhurakshak always stood out as one of the most potent underwater platforms. It also had two unique firsts the first submarine in which an Indian head of state sailed (2006) and the first Indian vessel to travel under ice (earlier this year).
The 2,300-tonne submarine entered service in 1997 and had been upgraded just months back to fire anti-ship and land attack cruise missiles. It had been bought from Russia as part of a 10-conventional-submarine deal in the 1980s. In 1997 it was commissioned as the second last in the Kilo class (Sindhushastra came in 2000). The diesel-electric-powered submarine was built at Admiralty Shipyard in St Petersburg. One of the officers who brought it to India was Rajesh Ramkumar,current commanding officer of the submarine.
After a long service and good safety record,the submarine was chosen in February 2006 to create history with President A P J Abdul Kalam sailing on it in the Bay of Bengal. This was the first time that an Indian head of state sailed in a submarine.
The submarine suffered an accident in February 2010 when a fire broke out in its battery compartment while it was being charged. A sailor died while two others were injured.
The submarine was sent to the Zvezdochka Shipyard in Russia for a midlife refit and upgrade. The refit was to extend its life by 15 years and cost Rs 815 crore. It involved installation of Klub-S 3M54E1 anti-ship and 3M14E land attack cruise missiles,a new Ushus hydro-acoustic system and a Porpoise radio-locater system.
The submarine was handed back to the Navy on January 27,2013 after which it sailed home. On its home voyage it became the first ever Indian submarine to travel under ice.This was also when it survived a scare in the Mediterranean.
It was docked back in Mumbai after the long refit on April 29,conducted patrols and took part in exercises over the past few months.