Antony expresses concern over sinking of INS Sindhurakshak

    By IANS,

    New Delhi: Defence Minister A.K. Antony Wednesday expressed concern over the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak submarine in which 18 persons lost their lives.

    He said there was a need to draw lessons for the future so that such national resources were optimally utilised and are not frittered away.

    Addressing the naval commanders’ conference here, Antony said navy personnel have conducted themselves in the best traditions of the services but there have been “some isolated cases which have proved to be a cause for serious concern and embarrassment”.

    “It is imperative to pay utmost attention to such instances and make earnest efforts to minimise, if not eliminate them,” he said, in an apparent reference to some complaints of personal misdemeanour.

    Describing the loss of 18 crew members on board INS Sindhurakshak Aug 14 as an unprecedented tragedy, Antony said, “we need to seriously reflect upon the incident, analyse it and also draw lessons for future even as attempts to salvage the submarine and an inquiry to ascertain the possible cause of the accident is already under way.”

    “It must be ensured that safety mechanisms are accorded topmost priority and Standard Operating Procedures are adhered to strictly and without any exception,” he said. He said a significant amount of the national resources are utilised in the creation of assets and in building capabilities.

    “It is the responsibility of the Navy to optimally operate and maintain these assets and hardware, as well as train its personnel suitably so such national resources are optimally utilised and are not frittered away. Attempts to salvage the submarine, which sank after explosions at the naval harbour in Mumbai, and an inquiry to ascertain the possible cause of the accident are under way.

    The defence minister complimented the navy for the commissioning of the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, bought from Russia, saying that coupled with the MiG 29K aircraft, the carrier has the potential to become a force multiplier in enhancing combat capability.

    He further said the nuclear-powered reactor on board INS Arihant becoming critical was a major boost to India’s strategic deterrence capability.

    “Once we reach the next milestone, the commencement of sea trials of the submarine, it would make India only the sixth nation in the world to build and operate nuclear-powered submarines,” he said.

    This, said the minister, would mark another stride forward in realising the objective of achieving nuclear triad capability, the defence minister said.

    Referring to the launch of an indigenous aircraft carrier in August this year, he said it was a crucial milestone for the country as it has placed India in a select group of nations which can design and operate aircraft carriers.

    “The fact that all 45 naval ships under construction are being built in India is ample proof of our indigenous ship-building capability,” he said.

    Referring to geopolitical and security matrices in and around the country, Antony said these have been changing and evolving at a rapid pace.

    He expressed satisfaction that the navy has maintained a fairly high operational tempo particularly over the past six months. “Despite the extended monsoon, the navy has remained focused on maritime and coastal security in collaboration with other organisations and agencies.”

    He expressed confidence that the operational capability and effectiveness of the Indian Navy will be continuously enhanced in the future.