THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A year after Indian Naval Ship (INS) Sindhurakshak sank off the Mumbai coast killing 18 Naval personnel, the Navy is yet to ascertain the exact cause of the mishap. An interim report recently submitted by the Board of Inquiry has detailed six probable causes of the explosion on board. Naval officials and experts however are reluctant to accept the much-discussed sabotage angle.
It was on August 14, 2013, that the fully-armed kilo-class submarine sank at the Mumbai harbour in an accident that killed 18 including three officers. At that time, the Navy could retrieve the bodies of only seven personnel. Immediately after the incident, the Navy ordered a Board of Inquiry into the incident. However, even after an year the exact reason has not been ascertained.
It has been pointed out that the fire on the submarine could have been caused by missiles and torpedoes. Conventional submarines like INS Sindhurakshak are powered by diesel generators and electric batteries. The fact that the sub was fully loaded when the blast occurred might have added to the explosion. Pointing out the possibility of a weapon explosion, experts said the series of blasts could have been triggered by the weapon explosion. That time itself there were questions raised about a possible sabotage. Experts have demanded that the possibility of sabotage also need to be probed.
The Navy had launched a detailed probe into the cause of the blast after the submarine was finally retrieved from the waters, this June. Currently, a probe is also going on to determine whether the submarine is sea-worthy. “The probe may be reaching its final stage. And it is for the Navy to determine the extent of information to be divulged. The sabotage angle has already been ruled out,” sources said.
The delay could be part of the natural course of the probe, opined Vice-Admiral Raman P Suthan, former Vice-chief of the Indian Navy. “The submarine has been lying under water for long, hence all the possible evidences would have been lost in the wreck or mixed with the debris. Now it’s difficult to trace the evidence,” the Vice-Admiral said.
Meanwhile, speaking to ‘Express’, former Defence Minister A K Antony pleaded ignorance about the current position of the probe. “There were some progress regarding the probe. However, I’m not aware about the current status of the probe, since I left the ministry more than two months ago. The MoD and the Navy would be able to provide the exact position,” said A K Antony.