The incident on board the Sindhurakshak is considered to be a big blow for the Indian Navy, considering the ageing fleet of submarines that the Navy operates with. The current condition is such that it very difficult or rather nearly impossible to have all the submarines in fully operational condition.
Naval officials said most of the existing fleet of Indian submarines were brought in the late 80’s and are on the verge of being decommissioned. In 1999, the Cabinet Committee on Security had worked out a 30-year plan to build submarines for the navy.
According to the envisaged plan, 12 new submarines were to be inducted to the navy by 2012, and was to be supplemented with 12 more submarines by 2030. But the navy which soon went out of favour of the government’s priority, coupled with red tape has seen that the Navy has not received a single new submarine since it commissioned INS Sindhurashtra in 2000.
The explosion on INS Sindhurakshak has made the alarm bells ring as the Scorpene project has been running way beyond schedule, and the Navy would soon have to retire its 10 Kilo class Russian and four German HDW submarines in a phased manner. Also the Rs. 50,000 crore P-75I is yet to be approved, and would take at least another 12 years for the first submarine to be built, said sources in the Navy.
A senior navy officer, requesting anonymity said, “There are chances that India will have to operate with about six submarines by 2020.” This figure is way less to the near 18 submarines that the Indian Navy needs to act as a deterrent to the ever growing naval capabilities of both China and Pakistan.