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Antony praises Navy chief, says resignation was accepted after talking to PM

New Delhi, Feb 27 (PTI): Defence Minister A K Antony today said he had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and consulted “everybody” before accepting the resignation of an “upset” Admiral D K Joshi as Navy Chief in the wake of Wednesday's submarine accident.

Antony, who came under criticism from former top navy officials for promptly accepting Joshi's resignation, said, ”I consulted everybody. I met the Prime Minister also. Ultimately, we took a decision to accept the resignation.”

Describing the Navy Chief as a “very good Admiral” and a ”fine human being”, the Defence Minister said he is “sad” about the whole development.

This is the first reaction of the Defence Minister after Admiral Joshi decided to step down.

”Yesterday Admiral Joshi met me personally and he handed over me resignation letter and he requested me to accept the letter with immediate effect,” he told reporters here.

Admiral Joshi had suggested that till a final arrangement is made, Navy Vice Chief Vice-Admiral Robin Dhovan be made the acting Navy chief, the minister said.

”He (Admiral Joshi) was very disturbed by the whole development. He is very fine human being and a very good admiral. He was totally upset about the whole development. He requested me that he would like to take the whole responsibility, so he requested me to accept his resignation with immediate effect,” Antony said.

Wednesday’s resignation by 59-year-old Joshi, who had about 15 months left in service, came hours after submarine INS Sindhuratna had an accident off the Mumbai coast in which seven sailors were taken seriously ill and two officers were missing. The Sindhuratna was at sea for routine training and workup (inspection) in the early hours of Wednesday when smoke was reported in the sailors' accommodation, in compartment number three.

Later in the day, the defence ministry had said the Navy chief had resigned “taking moral responsibility for the accidents and incidents which have taken place during the past few months”.

Yesterday's incident was the 10th accident involving navy warships in the last seven months.

Meanwhile, the Navy continued its search for two officers who have been missing in the Sindhuratna accident. It is trying to bring back the submarine to the Mumbai dock.

“It is taking a bit longer time in towing the submarine because of its restrictive movement. Though it is in the immediate vicinity, it will take some time to bring it to the dock and some more to berth it,” a Navy source said today.

The source also said that the Navy was doing its best to trace the two missing officers.

The injured sailors who had inhaled smoke and were airlifted to the naval hospital INS Ashwini are reported to be stable.


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