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Rediff.com  » News » Stop speculating on submarine tragedy, say ex-naval officers

Stop speculating on submarine tragedy, say ex-naval officers

August 21, 2013 17:28 IST

Theories of sabotage may be tempting to lap up but let’s wait for the board of inquiry to submit its report on the INS Sindhurakshak tragedy, naval officers tell Vicky Nanjappa  

The board of inquiry set up to investigate the explosions on INS Sindhurakshak and its sinking should come out with its report soon to put an end to speculation, feels Commodore (retd) C Uday Bhaskar, former director of the Indian Maritime Foundation.

Questions continue to be raised on whether it was due to a technical or human error, or was there sabotage that led to the Kilo-class submarine’s sinking at its berth in the Mumbai naval dock.  

Retired naval officers who spoke with rediff.com too feel that people should stop speculating about this sensitive case.

“I cannot draw a conclusion whether it was the fire that caused the explosion or was it the explosion that caused the fire. The possibility of sabotage is low. Let us see what the board has to say about this. I have said before that the nature of the fire would show that there was a high explosive ordinance that may have been triggered,” said Commodore (retd) C Uday Bhaskar.

The retired naval officer said the incident must have also impacted the morale of the Navy, especially its submarine arm.

“They all must be in a state of shock. Not only have we lost a submarine, but the more anguishing part is the loss of lives. It is mind-boggling to lose a submarine in harbour,” he said.

Commodore (retd) C Uday Bhaskar, however, said the military as an institution has the resilience to deal with such situations and move on. But the issue of security is something that needs to be reconsidered, he says.

“We are acquiring nuclear submarines and hence safety is of utmost concern. It has been a learning curve, but a very costly one,” he says.

Cautioning against speculating on the incident, Rear Admiral (retd), S K Das says the Indian navy is doing everything to find out what led to the incident. “It is a great loss and the matter is sensitive. When the navy is doing a thorough job, loose lips should not speculate,” he says.

The sabotage theory may be tempting to lap up, says Vice Admiral (retd) K N Sushil, but it is for the Navy to go into the details of the incident and put in place precautions and procedures to be adopted in future.

“On the face of it, it seems that the explosion was caused from the trigger source (weapon fuel), which is either the oxygen from the torpedo or the booster of the missile. There is a need for a thorough investigation into the matter. The board of inquiry would need to concentrate on several issues and gather evidence. They would also need to seek the help of forensic experts in this case,” he says.

Losing an operational submarine is a big loss, says Commodore Sam Daniel.

“Whether it was material failure or human error, I cannot comment as it would be wrong on my part to do so. Let’s wait for the inquiry to submit its report,” he said

Meanwhile, sources say that sabotage can be ruled out. The Russian team looking into the case too has ruled out sabotage.

Vicky Nanjappa in Bangalore