The Navy on Thursday declared that the two officers, who had been unaccounted for following the fire and smoke trouble on board INS Sindhuratna submarine, were found dead in one of the compartments of the vessel during searches carried out after it had docked in Mumbai earlier in the day.
“The two officers, who were earlier declared missing, have been located in the compartment and after examination by medical officers, both the officers were declared dead,” a Defence Ministry PRO from Mumbai said.
The two officers were identified as Lt Cdr Kapish Muwal from Najafgarh in Delhi and Lt Cdr Manorajan Kumar from Tatanagar in Jharkhand.
Sindhuratna, which had sailed out from Mumbai for sea trials on Tuesday after a six-month refit in Mumbai that ended in December 2013 and successful habour-tests, had reported a fire and smoke on board in the early hours of Wednesday, following which seven sailors were evacuated to military hospital INS Asvini.
The two officers had then been declared as missing after the compartment was sealed for ventilating the smoke and toxic Freon gas from fire extinguishers. Following the confirmation of their deaths, the Navy has informed their parents as the next of kin since the two were single.
The PRO said Sindhuratna had returned to the harbour in the morning and the search for two officers continued till they were located. All other officers and sailors were safe. “A high level inquiry, headed by an officer of Rear Admiral rank, has been constituted and has immediately commenced its proceedings,” he said.
The aim of the Navy was to ventilate the submarine, locate the two missing officers, establish the cause of all incidents and to recommend steps for continuing safe operations of submarines first, he added.
Admiral D K Joshi had on Wednesday resigned owning moral responsibility for the series of accidents reported since August 14, 2013 when docked INS Sindhurakshak, another Kilo class submarine like Sindhuratna, had sunk following internal explosions in Mumbai.
The government had surprised the nation by quickly accepting the resignation of Joshi, who had prepared it himself and had carried it with him when he met Antony. Reacting to the resignation, Antony told reporters outside his residence that he was “sad” over the “whole development” and called Joshi “a fine human being and a very good admiral.”
Antony said Joshi had, during the face-to-face meeting, pushed for his resignation to be accepted and he relieved of duties immediately. “That was his request that I accept it (resignation). After consulting everybody, ultimately I decided about it. I am saddened by it.” The Defence Minister had consulted both President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh before accepting Joshi’s resignation, top sources said.
Joshi had in his resignation referred to the accidents and incidents of the past few months impacting the professional image of Navy and stated that his continuation as chief was “untenable.”
“In the interest of accountability, I accept fullest moral responsibility for above mentioned accident. I have the honour to resign with immediate effect,” he said, and asked his duties to be assigned to the navy vice chief Vice Admrial R K Dhowan in the interim before a regular chief is appointed.
However, in his one-on-one meeting with Antony, sources said, Joshi had argued that every minor accident had been “blown out of proportion” to create an impression that the Navy was callous in handling national assets.
The series of reports, even minor and insignificant incidents, began to be reported following the November 23, 2013 message of Antony to an in-camera naval commanders conference in New Delhi that the Navy was “frittering away national assets” in the backdrop of the Sindhurakshak explosions.
On Thursday, Joshi visited the naval headquarters to meet with his office staff and in his last message sent out by him to all Navy personnel, informed them that his decision to resign was taken by him after consulting only his wife and that was taken moral responsibility for the accidents.