Fire-ravaged Indian Navy submarine sinks, Antony confirms deaths

Defence minister AK Antony on Wednesday said that he feels sad about the sailors who lost their lives in the fire on an Indian Navy submarine in Mumbai.”I feel sad about those Navy personnel who lost their lives for the country,” Antony told reporters outside Parliament.

In a major setback to the Indian Navy, a submarine caught fire after a massive explosion and sank in the dockyard here early on Wednesday, with the fate of 18 personnel, including three officers, on board remaining uncertain.

The explosion resulted in a major fire breaking out on board INS Sindhurakshak, a Russian-made Kilo class submarine of the Indian Navy, shortly after midnight, they said.The fate of 18 persons on board the 2,300 tonne submarine, powered by a combination of diesel generators and electric batteries, is being ascertained, a defence spokesperson said. The Navy has ordered a board of inquiry to probe the explosion and subsequent fire in the submarine, he said.

Fire tenders from the Naval dockyard as well as the Mumbai Fire Brigade were immediately pressed into action, he said.
However, due to the explosion, the submarine has submerged at the dock with only a portion visible above the surface, a defence statement said.TV footage of the incident showed a huge ball of fire triggered by the explosion lighting up the night sky in Colaba area where the Navy dockyard is located.The statement said efforts are on to ascertain the safety of the personnel and salvage the submarine.

Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi is on his way to Mumbai. The submarine had returned after a major upgrade programme in Russia 3-4 months ago and was capable of carrying a potent weapons package including the anti-ship ‘Club’ missiles.