Nine days after a submarine accident triggered the resignation of Navy Chief Admiral D.K. Joshi, a naval officer was killed in a gas leak on board INS Kolkata, officially known as Yard 701, while undergoing delivery trials at the Mazagon Dock.
A senior police official told presspersons that a fire-fighting test was under way in the carbon dioxide unit on board the guided-missile destroyer when the gas leak occurred around 12.45 p.m. Both Navy and dockyard personnel were present during the trial.
Additional Commissioner of Police Krishna Prakash identified the deceased officer as Commander Kundal Wadhwa. Two dockyard officials, also injured in the gas leak, were undergoing treatment, he added.
The Defence Ministry said that as part of the destroyer’s delivery trials, the carbon-dioxide fire-fighting system was being evaluated and accordingly the gas was to be released in one of the machinery compartments.
“During the trials, one of the system valves on the CO2 bottles malfunctioned leading to leakage of CO2 in the compartment. Commander Kundal Wadhwa, Engineering Officer (Desig), inhaled the CO2 gas and was critically injured. The officer was rushed to St. George Hospital. However, efforts to revive him failed,” the Ministry said in a statement.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman Prakash Javadekar, meanwhile, demanded the resignation of Defence Minister A.K. Antony for the latest incident.
The former Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash told The Hindu that he believed the gas leak on board INS Kolkata and the Sindhuratna incident should not be linked.
“These two incidents don’t have anything in common. The gas leak today happened in an industrial establishment,” Admiral Prakash said.
The Navy has ordered a board of inquiry into the incident. The police have made an entry in the Accidental Death Register.
Timeline of Naval incidents
February 2014 Two Naval officers were killed and seven sailors were left injured after a fire broke out in the sailor's compartment of INS Sindhuratana.
January 2014 INS Airavat, an amphibious warfare vessel, ran aground.The commanding officer was suspended.
January 2014 INS Sindhughosh was about to run aground when it entered the Mumbai harbour during a low-tide.
December 2013 Fire broke out at India’s leading minesweeper ,INS Konkan while undergoing repairs at Vizag.
August, 2013 INS Sindhurakshak sank in the Mumbai harbour, killing all 18 personnel on board. Salvage operations of the submarine is yet to commence.