Oxygen leak in torpedo led to Sindhurakshak explosion, submarine was “not justified for deployment” — Probe

First time Navy Inquiry report made public; 17 personnel died in 2013 accident.

Manu Pubby

In the first official details of what went wrong on board the Indian submarine that exploded at the Mumbai port in 2013, it has been revealed that an oxygen leak from one of the torpedoes being loaded onto the vessel caused the accident.

The oxygen leak, according to the Navy inquiry that has now been made public by the central government auditor, took place due to a material failure in the torpedo. The accident on board the Kilo class INS Sindhurakshak in August 2013 killed 17 naval personnel – one of the biggest losses suffered by the Navy in peacetime.

Alarmingly, the CAG report has also quoted the Navy inquiry as saying that putting the Sindhurakshak back on deployment in August 2014 was not justified as it had not completed several trials and a “work up” that is required prior to going to sea.

“(Inquiry) Board, in February 2014 after scientific analysis and careful consideration, inferred leakage of oxygen from a torpedo as a primary initiator of the incident. The oxygen leak was attributed to material failure of oxygen flask or its associated pipelines,” said a CAG report on naval accidents that was submitted to Parliament on Friday.

In the past, the Defence ministry has acknowledged that mishandling of weapons may have caused the accident. However, the audit report points to a possible material failure in the torpedo as well. The detailed report says that there were several factors due to which the submarine was not justified for deployment.

“Complete ‘Work Up’ of the submarine was not conducted when the submarine was prepared for operational deployment as the ‘Work Up’ was completed within one week instead of prescribed two weeks,” the report says.

It adds that sea acceptance trials of two critical equipment had not been completed at deployment and that the authorities “did not properly assess the crew fatigue besides, the submarine was holding ammunition nearing life expiry”.

 

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