Thursday, January 10, 2008

Indian Submarine Collision opens Pandora's Box of Intrigue

One of India's Kilo-based diesel submarines, INS Sindhughosh scraped under a large merchant ship in the Arabian Sea about 114 nautical miles from Mumbai on Monday. Fortunately, no casualties were reported, but standby for some unusual (firing the sub's CO is usual) fireworks.

As usual initial reports vary, but the Sindhughosh, which had been acquired from the Soviet Union in 1986 as a Kilo class sub, returned from Russia last year after extensive upgrading to fire land-attack Klub-S cruise missiles. The collision comes just after naval intelligence received alerts of possible strikes against its warships off Pakistan, naval sources said.

The submarine, whose name translates to 'Brave' had apparently been maintaining total radio silence when the accident took place. Some naval experts have expressed surprise that the submarine was cruising at relatively shallow periscope depth. Naval officials were tight-lipped about the incident and merely said a Board of Inquiry has been ordered to probe the mishap.

The Canadian contract for a DSRV is under investigation of corruption. The Indian Navy has yet to sign a new one. The status of India-U.S. agreement for Submarine rescue is not yet clear. - Source. (The last must be considered academic, as witnessed in the rescue of Russia's AS-28 in 2005, when no international effort was spared to rescue a few submariners). Submariners interested in India's general rescue capabilities will find public information here at ISMERLO. Curiously, Canada is not among the sixteen nations for whom a rescue capability is listed.

Perhaps a journalistic bias is evident here: ...the Submarine arm of Indian Navy is shrinking at alarming rate. Indian Navy will have one submarine less for another few years to come. Read the whole article, however, it lists expected ramifications of the current submarine collision, including this revealing information:

While the speculation is that the indigenously developed sonar USHUS malfunctioned, it could be yet another attack on indigenous equipment as per the current trend.

So, are we to believe India will have to outsource the engineering and fabrication of SONAR as well as its submarine rescue?



At 11 January, 2008 11:44, Blogger zuluwarrior said...

This was potentially a very serious incident avoided I suspect due to two key elements; the inherent safety and build of this former KILO Class boat and the professionalism of the Captain and his crew. Despite speculation in the press and elsewhere as to what the submarine was doing, collisions at sea are one of the risks of submarine operations. If there was a technical or leadership failure this will come out at the subsequent BOI and rectification will follow - it goes with the job. What is of more immediate concern is the status and capability of the Indian Navy submarine rescue service? If this had not resulted in a safe recovery does the Indian Navy possess the capability to effect a rescue? If there is an increase in submarine operations of this type the potential for collision and accident increases. As a submariner risk is part of the job, managing the risk enables you to get the best out of the platform and the crew. I would want to be assured that as the operational tempo and our exposure to risk increases a viable and proven submarine rescue service is at notice to move, trained and ready to deploy. If not, why not - perhaps questions need to be asked. The reaction of the Russian public to the loss of submariners was all too graphic during the tragic loss of the Kursk - how that contrasts to the safe rescue of the 7 crew of the Priz in 2005. The message is clear, doing nothing is not an option.

At 11 January, 2008 12:16, Blogger Vigilis said...

zuluwarrior, right on!


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