'Ammo ignition could be behind sub blast'
By U Anand Kumar | Published: 20th August 2013 10:50 AM |
Defence Minister A K Antony on Monday said preliminary investigations have indicated that the explosion on the INS Sindhurakshak submarine was triggered by the possible ignition of armaments, the cause of which was yet to be established.
Antony told the Rajya Sabha that visual and forensic examinations would throw more light into the cause of ignition. This will be possible only after the submarine is afloat and de-watered.
“A Board of Inquiry with all relevant specialists has been constituted to investigate the likely causes of the accident at the earliest. In addition, extensive checks on weapon-related safety systems and audit of Standard Operating Procedures on all operational submarines of the Indian Navy have been ordered,” the Defence Minister said in a suo motu statement . The rapidity and intensity of the explosion and the resultant damage sustained by the submarine indicate that the 18 naval duty personnel, comprising three officers and 15 sailors, would not have survived.
He said: “Diving operations by the Indian Navy are in progress round the clock to search for the personnel, assess the damage and also to arrest leakages and ensure de-watering. Efforts have been made to de-water the flooded compartments using high-capacity pumps. However, there has been no discernible change in the water level inside the submarine, indicating likelihood of ingress of water through openings due to structural damage.”
The minister said globally renowned professional salvage agencies have been approached and they are undertaking the survey for salvage operations. There is also an offer of help from Russia, where the refit and upgrade had been undertaken. “I would like to assure that all support, assistance and counselling will be provided to the families of the 18 naval personnel. A special family cell has been formed at the Western Naval Command in Mumbai for this purpose,” he said.