Commanding officer of INS Sindhuratna to be court-martialled

Commanding officer of INS Sindhuratna  to be court-martialled

Almost a year after the ‘INS Sindhuratna’ tragedy, the Navy Chief has ordered court martial for the submarine’s commanding officer Commodre Sandip Sinha and strict action against six others.

“The commanding officer was recommended for court martial. Six officers were awarded letter of severe displeasure (LOSD),” said an officer. The LOSD would adversely impact the careers of those six officers, who would not be considered for promotion and courses for the next two years.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar gave a hint of the action when he informed Parliament in November that seven officers were found guilty of “various acts of omission and commission” leading to the February 2014 fire incident that killed two officers and injured several others.

All the seven were given show cause notices to argue their cases before the Navy decide the next course of action.

The ill-fated submarine was at the high sea – 80 km from Mumbai - when a fire was reported from the sailor’s accommodation. While seven crew inhaled the acrid smoke and fell sick, two officers Lt Cdr Manoranjan Kumar and Lt Cdr Kapish Singh Muwal were chocked to death as they locked themselves inside the burning compartment to minimise the damage.

Following the accident, then Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi resigned taking moral responsibility of a series of accidents since August 2013.

Commissioned in December 1988, ‘INS Sindhuratna’ just came out of the refit when the accident took place. The refit, costing upwards of Rs 100 crore, happened between May and December, 2013. The refitted submarine completed its first task and was in the middle of the second task when the accident happened.

The Board of Inquiry, headed by Rear Admiral Soonil V Bokhare, ruled out battery being the cause of the fire. The battery was taken from another Kilo class submarine ‘INS Sindhukesari’ and almost 40 per cent life of the battery was intact when it was fitted into ‘INS Sindhuratna’.

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