Accident onboard INS Sindhuratna

First Account of Event

Indian Naval Submarine Sindhuratna was at sea off Mumbai for routine training and workup (inspection). While at sea in the early hours of 26 Feb 2014, smoke was reported in the sailors accommodation, in compartment number three, by the submarine. Smoke was brought under control by the submarine's crew.

In the process of controlling the smoke / fire, seven crew members inhaled smoke and felt uneasy. The Headquarters, Western Naval Command (HQWNC) rushed a Seaking Helicopter with medical team. The seven crew members were transferred to naval hospital Asvini. All specialist medical officers attended and reported that the crew is safe.

Naval ships were dispatched by HQWNC and are in the area to provide assistance to the submarine. Two personnel have not yet been located and all efforts are in progress to locate them. All other crew of the submarine are on board and safe. Submarine is also safe and this does not have any weapons on board. The submarine will return to harbor shortly.

An inquiry has been ordered to establish the cause of the incident.

Status of Post Accident Activities

04 Mar 2014

Consequent upon Sindhuratna returning to harbour AM 27 Feb 14, a preliminary assessment of damage sustained onboard was carried out by a specialist team of HQWNC.

Based on preliminary inspection of third compartment, the likely seat of fire has been indicated as the mess deck, which is located one deck above the battery pit. Certain electrical cables were observed to be burnt/ damaged in this area. The cause for initiation of fire at this location would be ascertained in due course by the high level Board of Inquiry. The preliminary inspection of third compartment thus indicates that the fire has emanated from the third compartment mess deck (sailor’s accommodation).

Status of Batteries

Sindhughosh class submarines carry 240 cells, distributed equally in forward and aft battery pits. The batteries presently installed on Sindhuratna have till date completed about 113 cycles as against 200 cycles available for exploitation. Further, the life of the batteries is valid by date (stipulated life of four years, by OEM). The batteries which were being exploited by Sindhuratna at the time of incident were therefore operationally in-date.

Current Status of Battery Pit

As has been brought out above, the battery pit is located in the third compartment below the mess deck. Preliminary inspection of the battery pit and the batteries therein has been undertaken and no damage has been observed thus for. Further, there are no signs to indicate any initiation of fire from the battery pit. The batteries appear to be clear of any damage and would now be put through normal checks and maintenance routines prior operationalisation.

In the meanwhile, a high level Board of Inquiry (BoI) headed by a two star Admiral has commenced the investigation to ascertain the cause leading to the incident.

28 Feb 2014 (01:00 PM)

The submarine arrived in Mumbai on the morning of 27 Feb. Fire fighting team were thereafter tasked to systematically and carefully ventilate the compartments, before opening them to search for the missing personnel onboard. During the search, the bodies of the officers were found located in the 3rd compartment. The bodies of the deceased officers Lieutenant Commander Kapish Muwal and Lieutenant Commander Manoranjan Kumar of INS Sindhuratna were evacuated and transferred to Naval Hospital Asvini soon after the submarine arrived in harbour on 27 Feb 14.

The other crew members have undergone preliminary medical checkup. The condition of all crew members is stable. Some are being kept under observation for a few days and will be discharged shortly. Families of all crew have been informed and some have also met them.

The next of kin of the deceased officers have arrived in Mumbai. The wreath laying will be with full military honours for the brave officers. The Armed Forces and Police units at home town have been informed for arrangement of military honours.

The compensation to the next of kin is being processed with Naval Headquarters & Ministry of Defence and will be handed over to next of kin. The Naval Ensign (Flags) will be lowered at half mast in the honour of the sacrifice made by the officers in call of duty for the nation.

27 Feb 2014 (02:45 PM)

The two officers who were earlier declared missing have been located in the compartment and after examination by Medical Officers both the officers were declared dead.

27 Feb 2014 (12:00 PM)

The Indian Naval Submarine Sindhuratna returned to harbour on the morning of 27 February 2014. Search for two missing crew members is continuing and every effort is underway to locate them. All other personnel on the submarine are safe. A high level inquiry, headed by an officer of Rear Admiral rank, has been constituted and has immediately commenced its proceedings. The aim is to ventilate the submarine, locate the two missing officers, establish the cause of all incidents and to recommend steps for continuing safe operations of submarines.