About 160 sailors and officers on board two Indian Navy attack submarines had a lucky escape when the vessels collided at a Mumbai harbour jetty while one of them was attempting parallel berthing with the other.
There was no injury to any Navy personnel or major damage to the vessels during the incident that occurred 10 days ago with Navy officers at the headquarters in New Delhi describing the incident as minor.
“It is a minor incident that took place 10 days ago. A submarine was attempting a parallel berthing alongside another, which is a routine practice, at the Navy jetty in the Mumbai harbour,” a Naval officer told PTI on Saturday.
The Navy has ordered a Board of Inquiry (BOI) into the mishap involving the two vessels — INS Sindukesari and Sindhuratna, which are Kilo class submarines of Russian origin — in which they suffered minor damages.
One of the two submarines involved in the mishap had recently returned after a refit in Russia.
Since there was no damage to any equipment or weapon system, the Navy said a minor repair to the submarine would be carried out locally.
But officers who did not want to be identified said the rudder of one of the vessels was damaged, requiring a minor repair.
Though officially the Navy refused to respond to queries on the incident, officers said these types of minor incidents do take place regularly when attempting parallel berthing.
Navy at present has 16 submarines in its fleet, of which 10 are Kilo class submarines bought from the Russians, four are HDW types and another two are Foxtrot class.
One of the Foxtrot class submarines is due to be decommissioned from the Navy this month.
Navy plans to induct six more submarines into its fleet in the next five years under the Scorpene project currently underway in Mazgaon Docks, a Defence Public Sector Undertaking, in Mumbai.
It is also looking for a follow-on project for the Scorpenes and is currently searching for a second production line for the same for which private shipyards too are being considered.
There have been two earlier mishaps involving Kilo class submarines.
INS Sindughosh had collided with cargo vessel MV Leeds Castle on January 10, 2008 in which it was reported to have suffered minor damage to its conning tower. Consequently, INS Sindhughosh was out of service for a month.
On February 26 this year, INS Sindurakshak reported a fire on board in which a sailor was killed and two others were injured. The incident took place in Vishakapatnam.
The 2,300-tonne Kilo class vessels were first commissioned in 1986 starting with INS Sindhughosh. These vessels are currently in the process of a refit and are being sent to a Russian shipyard for the programme one after the other.