Armed sub scare

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  • Published 19.01.14

Mumbai, Jan. 18: An Indian Navy submarine loaded with missiles and torpedoes has run aground five months after a disastrous accident on board a berthed one.

The latest mishap occurred during low tide on Friday evening as the kilo-class vessel — the first of the 10 Sindhughosh-class submarines owned by the navy — hit the ground while returning to the naval dockyard after a patrol.

By the early hours of Saturday, all personnel aboard had been rescued. By afternoon, the submarine had been tugged back onshore.

“As many as 70 men were on board and the submarine was fully armed at the time of the incident. The incident occurred around 6pm on Friday and as soon as we got to know about it, a chill ran down our spine — memories of the horrific August 14 (2013) accident returned,” said a naval officer in Mumbai. In the accident in August, 18 sailors had died.

The submarine that ran aground was under the command of Capt. Subhash Chandra. “Initial reports say that there was misjudgement about the time of the tide and depth of water in the harbour,” said a naval source.

A naval spokesperson in Mumbai denied that any such incident took place.

But top naval officials confirmed to The Telegraph that the submarine, due to enter the naval dockyard around 4pm on Friday afternoon, got delayed and ran aground while trying to enter the harbour in low tide.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation listed the timing for peak high tide on January 17 at 1254 hours to the height of 3.80 metres after which the tide began falling and it was at its lowest of 0.74m at 1847 hours.

“There has been some damage to the submarine’s sonar system and hull but the damage is superficial. The submarine is in operational condition,” said the naval source.

The same submarine was involved in an accident with a merchant vessel in January 2008 during a fleet-level war game off Mumbai.

“That accident had happened because of a malfunction in the sonar system while the submarine was at periscope level. It had damaged the boat’s conning tower,” said the source.

India had a fleet of 10 Sindhughosh-type submarines — it now has nine after the accident in August.

INS Sindhurakshak — another submarine of the Sindhughosh class — was destroyed after a implosion when ordnance was being loaded on August 14. Fitted with anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capabilities, these submarines were the first ones to be commissioned into the Indian Navy.

All Sindhughosh-class submarines were built under a contract between Rosvooruzhenie and the Indian defence ministry. The submarines of this class are able to operate solo for 45 days with a crew of 53.

The total complement of personnel is 68-70, including seven officers. The submarine is 73 metres long with a beam of 10 metres.