Navy chief cuts short Seychelles visit

Visakhapatnam : A day after an auxiliary ship of the Indian Navy sank, killing a sailor, navy chief R.K. Dhowan has cut short an international tour while an official probe has been ordered into the incident.

Sailor James Jacob died in the disaster while four others remain missing.

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Admiral Dhowan, who had gone to Seychelles to hand over a patrol boat to the island nation, was to stay there till Sunday.

He is likely to be back in India soon after handing over the vessel to the Seychelles government.

An official board of inquiry has been ordered into the incident.

“A full scale search and rescue operation has been launched by the Indian Navy for the four personnel reported missing,” a navy official said.

At least eight naval ships and aircraft have been deployed in the operation.

Navy aircraft including Boeing P8I, Dorniers and Sea King 42C as well as Chetak helicopters have also been deployed.

Initial reports suggest that one of the compartments of the ship got flooded, causing it to sink.

“As per the initial reports, the probable reason for sinking of the vessel seems to be ingress of sea water (flooding) in the engine room and aft steering compartment of the vessel. A board of inquiry headed by a captain has been constituted to investigate into the circumstances leading to the mishap.

“It could have been due to a problem with the seal material,” the official said, adding the exact reason can be ascertained only after the report of the board of enquiry comes.

There were 28 naval personnel on board the vessel which was on a routine mission to recover practice torpedoes fired by fleet ships. Twenty-three personnel were rescued.

The Torpedo Recovery Vessel (TRV) A-72 sank off the coast of Visakhapatnam around 8 p.m. Thursday.

Built by the Goa Shipyard Ltd in 1983, the ship had served the Indian Navy for 31 years.