Submarines, underwater manned vessels




AUGUST 24 2013 - Almost a week after the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak, Defence Minister AK Antony on Thursday said that he did not rule out sabotage angle in the Navy submarine accident. It has to be mentioned that earlier this week he had said “preliminary investigations into the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak revealed that explosions were caused by the possible ignition of its armaments”. The Voice of Russia however dismissed this version stating that even majority of local experts rule out this possibility as the port and the submarine were guarded around the clock. According to Indian media, the night before the accident, Sindhurakshak ended preparations for another outward bound. It appears that in view of increased Indian hostilities on LoC, India tried to keep the navy combat-ready. Anyhow, according to an official at the Zvezdochka Shipbuilding Centre, the specialists of the guarantee group visited the submarine on the eve of the accident, and all systems under their control were completely operable.

According to Russian experts, the only reason for the tragedy was the violation of violation of safety standards and instructions. Experts are discussing first and foremost possible violations by the crew during the recharging of the submarine’s accumulators. Hydrogen emits during the charging and exploitation of batteries, and when its concentration increases, an extremely explosive mixture is formed in the air. In this case, submarine is equipped with a hydrogen burner that is aimed at neutralizing a possible threat of an explosion. In an interview with the Voice of Russia, retired Commodore Parambir Singh Bawa pointed to the possibility of exploding hydrogen. There is a strong possibility that missiles were accidentally fired by the personnel. It was suggested that originally, hydrogen exploded, and then ammunition might have exploded. According to another version, a warhead had exploded on board and the submarine’s forward end was completely destroyed because a warhead of a Club anti-ship missile contains 400 kilograms of powerful explosive.

Of course, the incident has brought down the Indian navy’s submarine capability, and the Indian navy’s ill-preparedness in handling such crises has been exposed. Due to its inability to deal with such accidents, India has approached US and Scandinavian experts who have carried out their surveys and now await heavy machinery and heavy cranes to lift the submarine out of water. India has ordered a review of its submarines' weapons safety systems, and after initial investigations showed that arms on board the INS Sindhurakshak may have played a role in its sinking. About two months before actual sinking of INS Sindhurakshak, there was a report in Indian media suggesting that India's underwater combat arm - the submarines fleet - was sinking.

“India has 14 conventional submarines, of which half are available for deployment. This is because ageing submarine fleets is being forced to spend more and more time at the docks for repairs and maintenance. The possibility of submarines lurking underneath the sea makes it difficult for enemy ships to move freely”, said a senior navy officer.

A depleting submarine fleet means that India will have less and less capability of keeping submarines under the water all the time. On the other hand, six Scorpene submarines, which were meant to be delivered by 2016, have been further delayed. The first was expected in 2012. The first of these boats will now be inducted into the Navy in 2016. The order is not likely to be completed before 2022. The six submarines are being built at Mazagaon Docks Limited (MDL) in Mumbai with technology transfer from DCNS of France. With India’s buying spree of sophisticated and lethal arsenal, and its planning to add 100 naval ships and submarines in the navy up to 2030 with a view to matching China’s capability, India’s economy is also sinking. Its rupee has lost about twenty percent against US dollar during last two years. If India continues to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on defence, it may implode from within as the teeming millions wretched of the earth would remain without food, clothing, shelter and medicine. And the fact remains that there are secessionist movements in 11 provinces of India.





Not ruling out the “sabotage” angle behind explosions on Navy’s destroyed submarine INS Sindhurakshak, Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday said the incident has cast a shadow on the force’s capability to safeguard country’s maritime interests.

Giving clarifications in the Rajya Sabha on the August 14 submarine explosion, he said the Navy has also ordered a study to assess the status of weapons on board the sunken submarine in view of fear of any further explosion during salvage operations.

“The Navy has ordered a Board of Inquiry (BoI) and it has started with all seriousness. Its terms of reference are to look into all aspects of causes of this incident will be examined by it. Nothing is ruled out. All likely aspects would be examined by the BoI,” Mr. Antony said.

Several members including Chandan Mitra (BJP) and Naresh Agrawal (SP) sought to know if sabotage was one of the reasons behind the accident which took place on the eve of Independence Day.

The Defence Minister said “at the moment, we cannot say conclusively about the exact cause of the incident. Our armed forces work on war footing on these aspects and they are also anxious on this issue.”

The Minister said of the 18 personnel on board the sunken vessel, bodies of eight had been found till Wednesday and they have been sent to the Naval hospital for post-mortem. “Death certificates of eight bodies cite extensive burns as the cause of death.”

He said five international and Indian companies are involved in surveying the vessel for salvage and after the vessel is dewatered and brought up, the team of Russian experts would be involved in the investigations.

Mr. Antony said the accident and the sinking of the vessel has “cast a shadow on capability of the Navy to safeguard interest in the vast coastlines and maritime area especially in the emerging security scenario in the Indian Ocean Region and extended region.”

The Defence Minister said naval divers are submitting all the material “including metals and partially burnt yellow coloured material found near the jetty are being inspected by the Naval armament inspectors to ascertain its composition.”

On the status of weapons still on board the submarine, he said a team comprising the chief of naval armament depot and commanding officer of a missile base has been set up.

“The team has been asked to carry out a detailed study to assess the state of explosives on board and quantify the risk associated with salvage operations because there is fear about further explosions. So, we are trying to clear that,” he said.

Mr. Antony said the water sample from the torpedo compartment of the submarine has been analysed in a laboratory in Pune and “immediate analysis does not indicate any presence of TNT in the water samples and the partially burnt yellow material. Further investigation is underway.”

He said the submarine refitted in Russia for two years was most modern and it involved a “large amount” of money.

“I can assure you, on one side, we will leave no stone unturned to salvage this submarine at the earliest and after that, follow up with further action. Navy is taking all steps to salvage this submarine at earliest and try to find out exact reasons. After that we will study the salvaged parts of the submarine,” he said.

The Minister clarified that there was no system of insuring warships and submarines in the Navy and armed forces.

He said diving operations of naval personnel were on to find out the “state of weapons and for locating water breaches in the vessel”.

Mr. Antony said the Defence Ministry was not getting funds adequately, but all funds given to his Ministry was being fully utilised.





The INS Sindhurakshak (Sanskrit, for protector of the seas) was a Russian-made Kilo-class 877EKM (Sindhughosh-class) diesel-electric submarine of the Indian Navy. Commissioned on 24 December 1997, it was the ninth of the ten Kilo-class submarines in the Indian Navy. On 4 June 2010, the Indian Defence Ministry and Zvezdochka shipyard signed a contract worth US$80 million to upgrade and overhaul the submarine. After the overhaul, it returned to India from Russia between May and June 2013.

The submarine suffered a minor fire incident in 2010 and a major one on 14 August 2013, which resulted in its sinking at Mumbai's naval dockyard. At the time of its sinking, there were reportedly 18 crew members on board and all are feared dead


Sindhurakshak was constructed at the Admiralty Shipyard in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Construction of the submarine began in 1995. It was launched in June 1997 and delivered to India in December 1997.

Kargil war (1999)

Sindhurakshak was deployed very close to Karachi, Pakistan during the Kargil War in 1999.

President Kalam (2006)

On 13 February 2006, during the submarine's deployment in Vishakhapatnam under the Eastern Naval Command, the then President of India A. P. J. Abdul Kalam became the first Indian head of state to sail in a submarine. He was given a demonstrative excursion, during which the submarine dived and sailed in the Bay of Bengal for a few hours. He was accompanied by the Chief of Naval Staff Arun Prakash. The submarine was commanded by Commander P S Bisht.

Accident (2010)

A fire broke out aboard Sindhurakshak while the vessel was in Visakhapatnam in February 2010. One sailor was killed and two others were injured. Navy officials reported that the fire had been caused by an explosion in the submarine's battery compartment, which occurred due to a faulty battery valve that leaked hydrogen gas.


After the fire damage in 2010, Sindhurakshak was sent to Russia for a two and a half year refit, overhaul and upgrade. In August 2010, Sindhurakshak arrived at the Zvezdochka shipyard in Russia. The submarine was modernised, repaired and retrofitted under Project 08773, and after the upgrade the sea trials started in October 2012. The upgrades included improved electronic warfare systems, an integrated weapon control system and a new cooling system, and were expected to extend the service life of the submarine by ten years. The Club-S (3M54E1 anti-ship and 3M14E land attack) missiles, USHUS sonar, СCS-MK-2 radio communication systems and Porpoise radio-locating radar, and other safety-enhancing features were incorporated. The submarine was handed back to the Indian Navy on 27 January 2013, after which it sailed back to India, under Commander Rajesh Ramkumar. This was the first time an Indian submarine had navigated under ice.

Incident in the Mediterranean

In March 2013, while returning from the refit, Sindhurakshak encountered severe storms in the Mediterranean Sea when it was travelling near Alexandria. This was part of the submarine's extensive three-month long deployment, where it traveled 10,000 miles. The severity of the storms prevented the Alexandria port authorities from sending a tugboat, and the shallow waters prevented the submarine from diving. An emergency call was placed via the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to the Egyptian Navy, which sent its latest tugboats and towed the submarine to Port Said.

Explosion and sinking (2013)

On 14 August 2013, the Sindhurakshak sank after explosions caused by a fire on board when the submarine was berthed at Mumbai. The fire, followed by a series of ordnance blasts on the armed submarine, occurred shortly after midnight. The fire was put out within two hours. It is unclear exactly what caused the fire. Due to damage from the explosions, the submarine sank and was partially submerged in 15 metres deep water at its berth, with only a portion of the sail visible above the water surface. Three sailors on board reportedly jumped off to safety. Navy divers were also brought in as there was a possibility that 18 personnel were trapped inside. Defence Minister A. K. Antony confirmed that there were fatalities. Other sources state that a small explosion occurred around midnight which then triggered the two larger explosions.

Due to the explosion, the front section of the submarine was twisted, bent and crumpled, and water had entered the forward compartment. Another submarine, INS Sindhughosh was berthed very close to Sindhurakshak due to the congested Mumbai naval dockyard; and sustained minor fire damage, however the navy has not released any details of the extent of damage. Sindhurakshak's double hull was credited with preventing further damage to surrounding vessels. Official sources said it was "highly unlikely" the submarine could be returned to service. The navy plans to begin salvage operations after the rescue operation is completed. As of August 19, seven bodies have been recovered, 11 were still missing. A Board of Inquiry, set up by the navy, is expected to present a report on the cause of the disaster by mid-September.




INS Sindhurakshak


Admiralty Shipyard, Saint Petersburg

Laid down:

16 February 1995


26 June 1997


24 December 1997


Pennant number: S63


Sank at Mumbai's naval dockyards on 14 August 2013 due to onboard explosions



General characteristics

Class & type:

Kilo-class Type 877EKM (Sindhughosh-class) submarine


Project 877 EKM submarine


2325 tons surfaced
3076 tons submerged


72.6 m (238 ft)


9.9 m (32 ft)


6.6 m (22 ft)


2 × 3650 hp diesel-electric motors
1 x 5900 hp motor
2 x 204 hp auxiliary motors
1 x 130 hp economic speed motor


Surfaced: 10 knots (19 km/h)
Snorting: 9 knots (17 km/h)
Submerged: 17 knots (31 km/h)


Snorting: 6,000 mi (9,700 km) at 7 kn (13 km/h)
Submerged: 400 miles (640 km) at 3 knots (5.6 km/h)


Up to 45 days with a crew of 52

Test depth:

Operational depth: 240 m (790 ft)
Maximum depth: 300 m (980 ft)


Seven officers and 61 ratings


9M36 Strela-3 (SA-N-8) surface-to-air missile
3M-54 Klub-S anti-ship and land-attack missiles
Type 53-65 passive wake-homing torpedo
TEST 71/76 anti-submarine active-passive homing torpedo
24 × DM-1 mines in lieu of torpedo tube








India has formally commissioned a nuclear-powered submarine into its navy, rejoining the elite club of nations with such a weapon.

The $1bn (£630m) Russian-built vessel is being leased by the Indian navy for the next 10 years. It was handed over to India in eastern Russia in January.

India previously operated a Soviet nuclear submarine until 1991.

It now rejoins China, Russia, the US, the UK and France as an operator of nuclear submarines.

India is also developing its own nuclear-powered submarine which is expected to be ready by the end of this year.

'Big boost for navy'

The 8,140-tonne Akula II-class submarine, built by the Russians as the K-152 Nerpa, has been renamed by India as the INS Chakra II.

The submarine was formally commissioned into the navy by the country's Defence Minister, AK Antony, at a ceremony in Vishakhapatnam, on India's east coast off the Bay of Bengal.

"This will be a big boost for the Indian navy," Mr Antony told reporters after the ceremony.

"The INS Chakra will ensure security and sovereignty of the country," he said.

It has a crew of 80 under the command of Captain P Ashokan.

The submarine set sail from the Russian port of Vladivostok 40 days ago, the BBC's Sanjoy Majumder reports from Vishakhapatnam.

In keeping with international non-proliferation treaties, the submarine will not be equipped with nuclear weapons. It will only carry cruise missiles, our correspondent adds.

India had previously leased a nuclear submarine from the Russians in the late 1980s which was used to train its naval personnel.

The INS Chakra will, however, be operational and is expected to give the Indian navy an added advantage, our correspondent says. It is capable of remaining submerged for about three months at a time.

Nuclear-powered submarine club

USA - 71
Russia - 21
UK - 12
France - 10
China - 10 (estimated)
India - 2 (one not commissioned)

Source: World Nuclear Association

It was due to be handed over to Delhi in 2009 but the transfer was delayed because of problems during testing.

In November 2008, at least 20 people died in an accident on the Nerpa when a fire extinguishing system was activated by mistake.

India is also building an indigenous nuclear submarine, the Arihant, which is expected to join the navy some time later this year.

Russia is also expected to help India train the Arihant's crew.

India and Russia are long-time allies and Russia supplies 70% of India's military hardware.





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