A firetruck enters the Mumbai navy dock after the explosion on the INS Sindhurakshak on Wednesday morning. (AFP)
New Delhi, Aug. 14 (PTI): The explosion aboard the INS Sindhurakshak is a setback but the Indian Navy will be able to set things right, former commanders and naval experts said today.
Former navy chief Admiral Sushil Kumar said the incident was “quite a setback for the navy as Sindhurakshak was one of our frontline submarines which was recently modified and was operational”.
But he was confident that the navy had ways to find out what went wrong.
“There could be many reasons why it happened, submarines do need a lot of precautions…. There are many possible causes for such mishaps, but it is not the first time that such an accident has taken place,” Kumar said.
“I am sure the navy will have the professional determination to set it right and everything will be back in order,” he said.
Vice-Admiral (retd) A.K. Singh said an internal explosion on a submarine could be caused either through material failure or because the standard operating procedure was not followed.
In submarines, the batteries are placed in the lower part while the missiles are on top, he said.
The batteries release hydrogen and, during charging, the gas reaches a concentration level of about 4 per cent, which may form an explosive mixture.
Singh, however, added that hydrogen alone was not enough to cause an explosion of the magnitude seen on the Sindhurakshak.
“I suspect the hydrogen may have created a fire, which spread to the top where the missile compartments are and reached the warheads, causing a massive explosion.
“It is unfortunate it was our frontline submarine. The damage done is enormous,” Singh said.
Terming it a “very major” loss, he continued: “Our conventional submarine fleet has been declining alarmingly and this was a frontline submarine, which had just come from Russia a couple of months back after major repairs and modernisation.
“It was our most important platform fitted with anti-ship and land attack missiles, torpedoes and very excellent sensors.”
Vice-Admiral (retd) Madanjit Singh said this incident was the first of its kind in the country in peacetime and was a matter to be seriously investigated.