EXCL: Hole in a newly re-fitted missile boat forces it to return while on operational duty; Navy to investigate

Article as appeared in the Mail Today newspaper on January 23, 2014.
Article as appeared in the Mail Today newspaper on January 23, 2014.

Putting a question mark over the workmanship within the elite Naval Dockyard in Mumbai and supervisory checks in the navy, a member of the elite 22nd Killer Missile Vessel Squadron of the navy, INS Vipul (pennant no. K46) was detected with a hole in its pillar compartment which forced the ship back into the harbour while it was on an operational deployment. This comes close on the heels of incidents involving its Kilo-class submarine INS Sindhughosh as first reported here and frigate INS Betwa.

The ship had only recently joined the fleet after spending months undergoing a Normal Refit (NR) within the naval dockyard, raising questions over the quality of work .

It was learnt that earlier this week, the INS Vipul was on operational patrol when, close to 70 nautical miles off Mumbai, ingress of water was detected owing to a hole in its pillar compartment. Pillar compartment is located close to the rear of the ship, described as stern. Pillar compartment is the location from which a ship’s underwater components connect to the ones aboard and there are multiple openings there, as a result. Those aware of the incident described it as a very serious one which necessitated ‘action be taken against those involved in the refit process and those supervising the same’.

When asked, sources within the Navy admitted to the incident but claimed that it was a minor one where leakage had been detected in time and action was initiated. “It is not a happy situation for us. More so because it took place despite the ship emerging from a refit. But it is not an extraordinary situation either. The ship’s age too must be looked at. We will be looking into this thoroughly,” said a source.

The INS Vipul was commissioned into the navy in March 1992 and operates under the Western Naval Command.

Recent mishaps in Indian Navy

  • August 2013 – INS Sindhurakshak, a Kilo-class submarine exploded inside the dockyard killing all onboard and later sank
  • December 2013 – The engine room of INS Konkan, a minesweeper caught fire in Vizag
  • December 2013 – A fishing vessel sank after colliding with INS Talwar
  • January 2014 – In the first week of January, a frigate based out of Mumbai, INS Betwa reported a rupture on the surface of its sonar dome. Had to be dry-docked for investigation
  • January 2014 – INS Sindhughosh, another Kilo-class submarine temporarily touched the ground while on its way back into the Mumbai harbour as the tide began receding during its entry. Was later pulled alongside. No damage was reported.



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