The navy has ordered a probe against the commanding officer of a leading warship after his boat allegedly hit a jetty while berthing at the Mumbai harbour, putting the navy’s dismal safety record under further scrutiny.
A navy source said a board of inquiry had been ordered against the captain of INS Mysore, a 6,900-tonne guided missile destroyer assigned to frontline operations. The warship’s skipper is a navigation and direction specialist.
Although the INS Mysore suffered “minor damage” and is currently seaworthy, the source said authorities had taken a “serious view” of the incident because of the spate of such mishaps.
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“The destroyer is currently off Visakhapatnam to take part in an annual exercise. Its captain has as an impeccable record and is still in command,” he said.
The captains of INS Talwar, INS Betwa and INS Airavat have been stripped of their command in a span of one month for lapses that led to accidents under their watch, raising questions about leadership and training in the navy.
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The incident involving INS Mysore has taken the navy’s mishap tally to nine since India’s Russian-built submarine INS Sindhurakshak blew up and sank at a Mumbai harbour last August, killing all 18 men on board.
Defence minister AK Antony had on Thursday asked the navy to clean up its act, saying he wasn’t satisfied with the force’s functioning. He directed the navy to “strictly follow” standard operating procedures to combat preventable accidents that have tarnished the force’s reputation.
The defence ministry may ask the navy to carry out a “safety stand-down,” a designated time for crews to focus on safety-related matters and training to deal with the daunting challenge of reducing mishaps. Human error is the most frequent cause of navy mishaps worldwide.
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