Other reasons cited by BoI include equipment malfunction, accident

Sabotage is one of the six possible reasons for the sinking of kilo-class submarine INS Sindhurakshak in August 2013, a preliminary report of the board of inquiry (BoI) has held.

According to the report, submitted to the Defence Ministry and accessed by The Hindu, the BoI, chaired by Commodore Deepak Bisht, cited five other probable reasons as well.

In the recent past, there have been two other incidents involving the Navy’s kilo-class submarines. In January 2014, Sindhughosh was about to run aground when it entered the Mumbai harbour, while in February, two naval officers were killed after a fire broke out on Sindhuratna.

Navy Chief Admiral D.K. Joshi resigned in February over these and other incidents. The government is yet to announce his replacement.

A massive fire had broken out on Sindhurakshak followed by a series of explosions, killing all 18 Navy personnel, including three officers. The 3,000-tonne submarine sank in the South Breakwater in Mumbai’s naval dockyard within hours of the incident.

The other reasons include human error (inadvertent mishandling of ammunition), malfunctioning of equipment or an accident.

“The BoI has not been able to ascertain the exact cause behind the incident,” a Navy official privy to the report told The Hindu. “This is a preliminary report and the board is yet to submit its final findings,” the official added.

The BoI can submit a final report only when the submarine is pulled out and is subjected to a forensic and chemical test.

“The first explosion, which was minor, could be because of malfunctioning of equipment. The subsequent explosions were major, probably due to the triggering of torpedoes, which also led to the sinking of the ship. This is impossible without a human element. This is why the inquiry panel has deliberated on the point of sabotage,” the source added.

“One of the other possibilities could be that the sailors were not able to load the missiles properly,” another official said. Operations to salvage the submarine are likely to be completed by August.

Correction

A sentence in “Sindhurakshak may have been sabotaged: probe” (April 10, 2014) noted that Navy Chief Admiral D.K. Joshi resigned in February over … incidents. However, the title had – Admiral – been left out inadvertently.

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