KARWAR: A blast in a steam pipe in the engine room of aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya is believed to have led to the fire that claimed the life of a naval officer on Friday at INS Kadamba naval base here. Nine others were injured in the accident. The blast damaged the fuel pipe causing the fire in the engine room.
Lieutenant Commander Dharmendra Singh Chauhan (30), who died dousing the flames, was hit by a jet of hot steam when he went into the smoke-filled room to fight the fire, which left him unconscious, sources said.
As soon as the fire was noticed in the fuel pipe, the fire-fighting crew immediately cut fuel supply, preventing any further damage. The sprinklers in the engine room were also automatically activated and the fire was brought under control. There were 1,300 men on board the carrier when the incident occurred, the sources added.
The fire broke out on Deck 3 of the vessel and damaged two compartments. The vessel has 21 decks and a thorough check has been ordered to prevent such incidents.
The Board of Inquiry team from New Delhi was expected to arrive in Karwarlate on Saturday night.
The probe will begin from Sunday and the team will also declare whether the vessel is ready for the joint naval exercise with the French Navy, scheduled off Karwar and Goa coast from May 1.
Doctors who conducted the postmortem on Lt Commander Chauhan at Karwar district hospital said he had been badly hit by steam and he had sustained severe burns on his upper body. He was declared dead when he was brought to the naval hospital.
After the autopsy, his body was handed over to his wife Karuna Singh. The mortal remains were flown to in a special aircraft from Goa to Indore. A guard of honour was given to the deceased officer earlier.
Dharmendra got married to Karuna, a professor, only on March 10.
The mortal remains of Lt Cdr D S Chauhan will be laid to rest in his hometown Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday, said Navy officials.
Six of the nine injured Navy personnel who are being treated at Naval hospital in Karwar are said to be recovering.