Submarine mishap quite a setback, but Navy will bounce back: Experts

India Submarine Fire_Kand.jpg

New Delhi: The explosion aboard the country's frontline submarine 'INS Sindhurakshak' was quite a setback, said former commanders and top naval experts even as they expressed hope that Indian Navy would soon be able to set things right.
Former Navy Chief Admiral Sushil Kumar said that the incident was, "quite a setback for the navy as Sindhurakshak was one of our frontline submarines which was recently modified and was operational". But Kumar said that he was confident that the navy had ways of galvanising into action to find out what went wrong.
"There could be many reasons why it happened, submarines do need a lot of precautions... There are many possible causes for such mishaps, but it is not the first time that such an accident has taken place," Kumar said.
He recalled an incident many years ago when the President had called a board of inquiry, but added that the damage in that case had been contained. "And, I am sure the navy will have the professional determination to set it right and everything will be back in order," he said.
Vice Admiral (retd) AK Singh said that an internal explosion on a submarine could have been caused either through material failure or because the standard operating procedure was not followed.
Insubmarines, the batteries are placed in the lower part while on top are the missiles, Singh said. The batteries release hydrogen and, during charging, the gas reaches a concentration level of about 4 per cent, which may form an explosive mixture.
Singh, however, added that hydrogen alone was not enough to cause an explosion of the magnitude witnessed in the 'Sindhurakshak' case. "I suspect the hydrogen could have created a fire, which spread to the top where the missile compartments are and reached the warheads, (thus) causing a massive explosion. "It is unfortunate it was our frontlinesubmarine. The damage done is enormous," Singh said.
He said it was possible that the hydrogen that accumulates during the charging of its batteries could have started the initial reaction through a likely spark which then caused the explosion. "All these weapons have a series of safeguards: inter-locks- electronic and mechanical, which prevent the weapons from exploding.
"So, this is a matter of serious investigation as to what caused this explosion," Madanjit Singh said. Former IDSA director, Commodore (retd) Uday Bhaskar, said that since the rate of induction of new platforms has not kept up with the kind of wear and tear that a submarine faces, the Navy'ssubmarine fleet was depleting while its operational load was increasing.
"The fact that the Sindhurakshak (incident) has happened, is going to have its own adverse impact," he averred.  

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