Dismayed over a string of accidents involving leading Indian warships, defence minister AK Antony on Thursday asked the navy to clean up its act, saying he wasn’t satisfied with the force’s functioning.
The navy’s safety record has been severely blemished by eight accidents since India’s Russian-built submarine INS Sindhurakshak blew up and sank at a Mumbai harbour last August, killing all 18 men on board.
“I cannot give the navy a 100% satisfaction certificate. Even one accident is a serious matter,” Antony said. He was responding to a barrage of questions on the navy’s dismal safety record at DefExpo-2014, the biennial exhibition of latest military hardware and technology.
Three warship skippers have been stripped of command in a span of one month for lapses that led to accidents under their watch.
Antony asked the navy to “strictly follow” standard operating procedures to combat preventable accidents that cost the country dearly - the combined cost of warships involved in recent accidents is pegged at more than Rs. 10,000 crore. He asked the navy to draw lessons from each mishap.
After the INS Sindhurakshak accident, the navy’s worst peacetime tragedy, the minister had asked the navy brass to “optimally operate” the country’s assets and ensure these were not “frittered away.”
Morale in the navy has sagged due to the accidents. Antony tried to lift it saying that the force had transformed itself significantly over the last 10 years to emerge as on one of the finest navies in the world.
"That is why countries want close cooperation with us. They want to carry out joint exercises,” he said.