While the navy was not yet over with the happiness of launching Vikrant, it went face down with the INS Sindhurakshak explosion. Another of India's baby projects, the submarine belonged to a class of advanced machineries in the Indian defence system.
How important was Sindhurakshak?
Laid down by one of the oldest shipyards-the Admiralty Wherf yard in St Petersburg in 1995, Sindhurakshak was launched in 1997 and delivered in the month of December the same year.
INS Sindhurakshak (S 63) was 877 EKM (NATO Kilo-class) submarine designed for launching missiles on land. A diesel electric submarine, it went through a major refit at Russia's Zvezdochka shipyard in 2010, soon after it showed signs of a batterey snag causing a fire breakout.
Part of the refit involved installation of equipment for Klub-S (3M54E1 anti-ship and 3M14E land attack) cruise missiles and over ten Indian and foreign-made systems, including the Ushus hydro-acoustic (sonar) system and CSS-MK-2 radio communications system.
In addition to that, the cooling system of the submarine was modified, a "Porpoise" radio-locater was fitted and other changes were carried out increasing the boat's military capacity and safety.
One of the best performers of the Naval machineries, the submarine displaced 2300 tons, had a crew capacity of 52, a top speed of 19 knots and diving depth of 300 meters.
The Zvezdochka dock of Russia, which specialises in repair and refit of nuclear-powered submarines, has already refitted four of India's diesel-electric fleet, Sindhuvir (S58), Sinduratna (S59), Sindhugosh (S55) and Sindhudvhaj (S56).
Although there are no confirmations on the actual timeline of the incidents that triggered the fire and the explosions, navy officials have been able to recreate the happenings onboard. With fumes coming out from the conning tower above the control room, it is suspected that Hydrogen released from the Battery section in the lower part of the submarine might have come in contact with the upper part where the torpedoes were stored.
This might have launched the torpedoes. While one torpedo exploded when it hit the wall of the submarine, the other one hit the other submarine INS Sindhuratna parked close by.
According to reports, about two-third of the submarine is destroyed, making it non functional and beyond repair. Considered to be one of the pet projects of the Indian Navy and the most expensive one too, the loss of the submarine is hard to digest for Indian Navy.
It now grieves the death of 18 officials onboard, apart from the loss of this expensive vessel.