In the latest among a series of embarrassing mishaps troubling the navy, a vital part of a vessel that helps it sail smoothly has gone missing from one of India’s leading warships.
One of the two stabilisers on India’s Russian-built stealth frigate INS Trishul was found missing during a recent inspection in dry dock in Mumbai, a navy source said. Most of the recent mishaps — 13 in the past eight months — have occurred under the Western Naval Command (WNC).
The navy has ordered an investigation into the mysterious disappearance of the component. Stabilisers help warships sail in rough conditions when the waves are high or the wind is strong. A navy official said: “A warship can sail without a stabiliser but it has operational implications.”
The stabiliser may have gone missing when the warship had gone out sailing late last year, but the matter came to light only during the recent inspection, the source said. A navy spokesperson in Mumbai said no incident was recorded on board the ship “over the past one month”.
The Trishul’s sister ship, INS Talwar, had infamously slammed into a trawler off the Ratnagiri coast on December 23, 2013, sinking the boat and tossing 27 fishermen into the sea. Also, the Trishul had collided with a merchant vessel in Mumbai waters in December 2005.
The Trishul incident comes to light three weeks after Admiral DK Joshi stepped down as navy chief, taking moral responsibility for the recent accidents.
Joshi resigned on February 26, the day two naval officers were killed and seven sailors injured in an accident on board INS Sindhuratna. WNC chief Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, under whose watch most of the recent mishaps have taken place, is one of the four contenders for the navy’s top job. The navy has had a bad run since August 2013 when INS Sindhurakshak blew up and sank at a Mumbai harbour, killing 18 personnel.
These accidents have forced operational warships out of active duty and knocked some officers off the race for top ranks. At least five warship captains have been stripped of command over the past 18 months for lack of adequate supervision and not complying with naval procedures.