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Indian submarine explosion under investigation

August 14, 2013, 13:25 UTC+3

Defense Ministry: terrorist activity no more than speculation

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Mumbai port. Photo EPA/ITAR-TASS

Mumbai port. Photo EPA/ITAR-TASS

NEW DELHI, August 14. (Itar-Tass) – India’s Defense Ministry has no information suggesting that the explosion on board of the Indian Navy’s dieselelectric submarine Sindurakshak was a terrorist act, a source with close ties to the Ministry told Itar-Tass.  “At this point information on it being the result of terrosit activity is nothing more than speculation,” he said.

Preliminary findings suggest an explosion in the torpedo bay has caused a fire which quickly engulfed the partially submerged submarine. It was determined later that two explosions took place, possibly cause by a fire of yet unknown origins. Indian Navy is currently investigating the incident.

Crew members

At the time of the explosion 18 crewmembers were supposed to be station on board of the submarine. IBN TV channel reported that rescue operations are underway. Rescue units managed to put out the fire in the partially sunken submarine; however, no news of crewmembers is available at this point.

Times of India reported that according to India's Defense Ministry, crew members quickly abandoned the vessel: "It remains possible that several people found themselves trapped. Details are being ascertained.”

Previously Indian mass media reported that according to the nation’s Defense Minister Arackaparambil Kurien Antony, the incident had claimed several lives, although the total number of casualties was not named.

“I’ve already notified the Prime Minister,” A.K. Anthony said. “India’s Chief of Naval Staff is already at the scene and I’m on my way there. I am saddened with the incident – it has claimed lives of many sailors.”

Russian service crew

Seven Russian specialists, five employees of the Zvyozdochka shipyard and two representatives of contractor enterprises, who arrived to Mumbai earlier to service the submarine, were not on board of the submarine during the incident. According to Nadezhda Shcherbinina, “Zvyozdochka spokesperson, said the enterprise is ready to provide full assistance in investigating and indentifyin causes of the incident.

Repairs in Russia

Sindurakshak was constructed in 1997 at the Admiralty Shipyards facility in St. Petersburg on commission of the Indian Navy. 

In 2012 the submarine was overhauled at the Zvyozdochka shipyard in Severodvinsk. The agreement between “Zvyozdochka” and India’s Defense Ministry has been signed in June 2010. In August 2010 the submarine arrived to Severodvinsk. As reported by the shipyard’s press service, the submarine was equipped with a modern missile complex Club-S. Over 10 Indian and foreign systems have been also installed, including Ushus sonar complex and СCS-MK-2 radio communications system.

The shipyard has also upgraded the cooling system, installed Porpoise radar set and implemented several other upgrades to boost combat facilities and operation safety of the submarine.

In November and December of 2012 the watercraft successfully completed the factory test program at the White sea, which included tests of its torpedo and rocket armaments. This January Sindurakshak departed from the shipyard to sail to its Mumbai port. 

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