Adm. D.K. Joshi, left, Indian Navy chief, briefs Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony about work being done on the stricken submarine INS Sindhurakshak in 2013. Joshi resigned in February after another submarine fire. (Agence France-Presse)
NEW DELHI — Yet another Indian Navy vessel met with an accident, as the tugboat INS Matanga caught fire April 6 while undergoing repairs at the Mumbai naval dockyard. The Indian Navy has been hit by more than a dozen accidents in the past 10 months involving warships and submarines.
Navy sources said fire broke out onboard Matanga, which was undergoing repairs at the dockyard, but there were no casualties. An inquiry has been ordered into the fire by the Indian Ministry of Defence.
The Navy took a major hit when its front-line, Russian-built submarine INS Sindhurakshak sank after a fire in August at Mumbai’s harbor, killing all 18 personnel on board. In February, another Kilo-class submarine, INS Sindhuratna, caught fire, leading to the resignation of the Navy’s chief, Adm. D.K. Joshi.
In March, an employee of domestic private-sector shipyard Larsen & Toubro was killed when the lid of a pressure tank to be installed on a follow-up nuclear submarine of the Arihant class, codenamed S-3, blew off at the nuclear submarine facility at Vishakhapatnam.
No Navy official would comment on the cause of the series of accidents, but they ruled out sabotage.
In 2013, INS Kolkata, a Kolkata-class destroyer, suffered a malfunction that led to a toxic gas leak, killing a senior commander. Fire broke out near the officer’s mess of the aircraft carrier INS Viraat in September off the Mumbai coast.
In December, a minesweeper of the Eastern Naval Command, INS Konkan, caught fire at the naval dockyard at Visakhapatnam while undergoing repairs.
In the same month, a fishing trawler sank after colliding with the frigate INS Talwar, injuring four of the 27 people aboard the trawler. The trawler was operating without lights. ■