Mumbai, Sept 3: INS Sindhurakshak is proving costly for the Indian Navy even when it is defunct. Sources say that despite the massive explosion, many of the torpedoes are still intact, which can explode on slightest disturbance, requiring immediate salvage operations.
Unfortunately, India does not have the equipment or the technique to salvage such a high-tech sub. Initially, it was suggested that a 4,000-tonne crane be brought from Korea, Singapore or Japan for $4 million per day. But, that was set aside given the huge additional expenses it involved.
Logistics for such a crane could be even more expensive as the dockyard may required dredging as the crane may not be able to enter the Mumbai dockyard because of its height.Furthermore, its transportation may lead to vibrations, triggering the ordinance on board. Given the sensitivity of the issue, five firms have been engaged in the salvage operations.
The salvage process now requires water jet technology (costing $8 million) and technology operators (charging $2,000 a day). One of India's pet projects, Sindhurakshak was bought at a price of $113 million in 1997. It was recently refitted for $156 million (around Rs 800 crore).
Salvage operations cannot be tendered due to security reasons
The salvage operations now, might amount to Rs 500 crore, which set officials wondering whether the operation can be tendered to a company. However, senior naval officials believe that is not a very good idea as India would run the risk of losing critical naval information to other countries.
"The Indian military cannot call a tender to sell, or dispose of, the sub because that runs the risk of the client or undertaker learning the secrets of the ordnance on board other Indian submarines. So the expenses will be borne by the military. The salvage operation will take at the very least a month due to its sensitive nature," he said.
It is rather surprising that India has some of the most advanced naval technologies in the war-front, but does not have the necessary back-up in case of emergencies. In such cases, it has to spend millions from its pockets to hire technologies from abroad.