Divers struggle to find victims of blasts on submarine

NEW DELHI Thu Aug 15, 2013 5:38pm IST

Navy personal and rescue workers stand on a dock at the naval dockyard in Mumbai August 14, 2013. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Navy personal and rescue workers stand on a dock at the naval dockyard in Mumbai August 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Danish Siddiqui

Rajalakshmi (C), 28, smiles after winning the Miss Wheelchair India beauty pageant in Mumbai November 26, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Miss Wheelchair India

Seven women from across India participated in the country's second wheelchair beauty pageant, which aims to open doors for the wheelchair-bound in modelling, film and television, according to organisers  Slideshow 

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Divers struggled in poor visibility inside an Indian navy submarine on Thursday to find 18 sailors who were inside the vessel when some of its weapons detonated and a fire swept through it as it lay berthed in a Mumbai base.

There has been no sign of life from the Russian-built INS Sindhurakshak since it sank late on Tuesday following two big explosions. It was the biggest peacetime loss for the Indian navy since a war with Pakistan in 1971 and turned the spotlight on its ageing submarine fleet.

The Defence Ministry said a large amount of seawater had entered the diesel-powered submarine, hampering visibility, while the damage caused by the explosion was blocking access to some areas.

"Trapped personnel have not yet been sighted or recovered," the ministry said in a statement.

The 16-year-old submarine, which had suffered an accident in 2010, had recently returned from Russia after a 2-1/2 year upgrade of its electronic warfare and integrated weapons control systems.

The explosions took place in the vessel's forward section, where its torpedoes and missiles are stored.

While divers managed to pry open one of the hatches, the heat of the explosion had melted parts of the internal hull twisting the others, blocking access to different compartments, the Defence Ministry said.

INS Sindhurakshak is a Kilo class vessel which were built in Soviet and later Russian shipyards for the Indian navy from 1985 to 2000. The navy has 10 of the submarines and four German HDW boats.

Uday Bhaskar, a fellow at the national Maritime Foundation said the navy's fleet of conventional submarines was getting smaller by the day. India has not been able to buy new submarines nor build new ones, he said.

"So we've been trying to make do with very old platforms," he said.

This week, though, the navy launched its first indigenously built aircraft carrier and activated the reactor on its first domestically built nuclear-propelled submarine. But both the carrier and the submarine have been decades in the making and will take several years before they are fully operational.

Some experts argue that instead of building expensive aircraft carriers and trying to project power far beyond its shores, the navy should be focusing on its severely depleted underwater arm to counter the growing reach of the Chinese navy.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

FILED UNDER:

Online Grocery Shopping

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Vodafone Tax Dispute

Vodafone Tax Dispute

India advised against challenging Vodafone tax ruling - source  Full Article 

Banking Sector

Banking Sector

India's laggard state lenders face tough sell on capital raising plan  Full Article 

Trade Deal

Trade Deal

WTO postpones trade deal by a day after last-minute objection.  Full Article 

Falling Oil Prices

Falling Oil Prices

Saudis signal no push for oil cut as market to "stabilise itself"  Full Article 

Raising Stake

Raising Stake

Nippon Life to raise stake in Reliance Capital fund unit  Full Article 

Sterilisation Camps

Sterilisation Camps

Sterilisation targets remain in all but name, critics say  Full Article 

Share Buyback

Share Buyback

Samsung Electronics to buy back $2 billion in shares  Full Article 

Microsoft in China

Microsoft in China

Microsoft to pay China $140 million for 'tax evasion'   Full Article 

Flashback: 26/11

Flashback: 26/11

The three-day attack in November 2008 left 166 dead.  Slideshow 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage