Indian submarines running without advanced periscopes

Indian submarines running without advanced periscopes

Indian submarines running without advanced periscopes

India's eight front line submarines currently operate with a solitary functional periscope as the installation of the second periscope is delayed by two to five years because of the red tape within the government.

Sailing with operational limitations, the Sindhughosh class submarines will have to wait till the next refit schedule when the second periscope with night vision/ low light vision and integrated radar and communication support measures, would be installed in these boats.

Even though the foreign supplier firm delivered seven periscopes between March and November 2016 they came long after the refit window when these instruments were to be fitted. The delay, noted a report from the Comptroller and Auditor General, was purely bureaucratic.

The Russian origin (Kilo class) submarines have two periscopes, each having only monocular vision. Almost 10 years ago, the Navy decided to replace one of the periscopes with a better one to improve the submarines' operations.

A Rs 184.33 crore ($ 39.74 million) contract was concluded with the US firm Kollmorgen in 2011. The first periscope was to be delivered in October 2013, the second in April 2014 and the rest by December 2016 at an interval of four months. The delivery schedule was in sync with the refit plan.

In February 2012, the company was taken over by another firm, which in November 2012 wrote to the Defence Ministry to transfer the contract.The approval from the Indian side with necessary changes was finalised in May 2014. Subsequently, the naval headquarters drew up the delivery plan, going beyond the refit schedule.

“Due to the delay of more than 34 months in the processing of the case, eight of the ten submarines had already completed their refits between December 2013 and May 2016. One submarine is presently (July 2016) undergoing a refit to be completed by January 2017,” CAG said in its report tabled in the Parliament.

This will result in continued operations of submarines with the existing periscopes with its limitations impacting their safety for at least 22-62 months till their next scheduled refits.

“The contention of the defence ministry that there was no adverse impact on the operational capability of the submarines is not tenable,” the audit watchdog noted.

The Navy was also slammed for having a poor safety infrastructure for safe operations of the under water boats notwithstanding two big accidents involving INS Sindhurakshak and INS Sindhuratna.

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