India orders submarine review after deadly explosion

India has ordered checks on the weapons safety systems of all its submarines after a deadly explosion on a vessel last week, which is believed to have killed 18 crewmen.

NEW DELHI // India has ordered checks on the weapons safety systems of all its submarines after a deadly explosion on a vessel last week, which is believed to have killed 18 crewmen.

The defence minister of India, AK Antony, also said naval divers were yet to fully access the Russian-built INS Sindhurakshak, which sank in a Mumbai harbour on Wednesday after a series of explosions that caused munitions to ignite.

"Extensive checks on weapons-related safety systems and standard operating procedures on all operational submarines of the Indian navy have been ordered," Mr Antony said yesterday.

India has nine functional Russian-built submarines and four diesel-fired submarines of German-origin, as well as a nuclear-powered submarine, which is on lease to the Indian navy from Russia.

The fully-armed INS Sindhurakshakis resting on the bottom of the harbour and Mr Antony said divers and engineers were struggling to refloat it because of holes in its watertight compartments.

"Globally renowned professional salvage agencies have been approached and they are undertaking the study of salvage operations," Mr Antony said.

"There is also an offer of help from Russia where the refit and upgrade had been undertaken."

The disaster, the navy's worst since the sinking of a frigate by a Pakistani submarine in 1971, has cast a shadow over India's defence capabilities as it seeks to counter a military build-up by an increasingly assertive China.

A few days before the submarine exploded, India had launched its first domestically-built aircraft carrier and began sea trials for the first Indian-made nuclear submarine, trumpeted as a "giant stride" for the country.

In February 2010, the INS Sindhurakshak caught fire while docked in Visakhapatnam city in southern India, killing a 24-year-old sailor.

Published: August 20, 2013 04:00 AM

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