Already facing a depleting strength of underwater vessels, the loss of one of its youngest and most capable submarines--INS Sindhurakshak, is a big setback for the Navy.
In view of the lessening operational capabilities of the existing submarine fleet and delays in getting their replacements, the Navy has made some changes in the deployment routines to prolong their life.
The Sindhurakshak and other four vessels upgraded in Russia, were supposed to play a major role in such a scenario but with this mishap, new plans will have to be chalked out to maintain the operational preparedness, senior Naval officers said.
The Navy has now a fleet of 14 submarines including nine Russian Kilo Class submarines, four German HDWs and one nuclear submarine INS Chakra leased to it by Russia last year.
The Sindhurakshak submarine was set to sail for its new mission in the next few days and was fully armed with its torpedos and anti-ship missiles in the naval dockyards in Mumbai at the time of the incident.
Under the around Rs 450 crore upgrades in Russian shipyards from 2010 to 2013, its structure and hull were refurbished and several other systems including its weaponry and target engagement capabilities were enhanced.
The submarine, procured at a cost of around Rs.400 crore, was one of the ten such vessels ordered by India from Russia in the early 1980s and the Sindhurakshak was the second-last of the lot and delivered in 1997 and was followed by the INS Sindhuratna.
In losing INS Sindhurakshak, the navy may have lost certain key maritime capabilities but "nothing is insurmountable", former naval chief Admiral Arun Prakash, who retired in 2006, told IANS in Goa.
INS Sindhurakshak was a diesel-electric submarine that returned home last year after a major refit at Russia's Zvezdochka shipyard.
It displaces 2,300 tonnes, carries 52 crew members, has a top speed of 19 knots (35 km per hour) and diving depth of 300 metres.
With over 58,000 personnel, the Indian Navy boasts of a large operational fleet that includes an aircraft carrier, an amphibious transport vessel, eight guided missile destroyers, 15 frigates, a nuclear powered submarine, 14 conventional submarines, 24 corvettes, 30 patrol vessels, seven mine counter measure vessels and auxiliary ships.