A day after INS Betwa, a guided missile frigate, tipped over during undocking at the Naval Dockyard, Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on Tuesday visited the site to take stock of the damages. The accident killed two personnel and injured 14 others.
Admiral Lanba was briefed about the accident, and a board of inquiry was constituted to assess the damage to the frigate.
The Navy hopes to salvage the ship, commissioned in 2004, and a team of specialists is likely to reach Mumbai on December 7. The team should complete its initial assessment within two days, said Navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma.
Sources in the Indian Navy said that ostensibly there seems to be a procedural error which caused the ship to slip. According to the procedure to undock the ship, water is allowed into the dry dock making the front end of the ship to float first, and later the rear end of the ship. But if the rear end floats first, the possibility of the ship undocking in an undesirable fashion can happen.
While undocking the vessel from the dock, sufficient amount of water is discharged to make vessel float. Until the water level reaches a specified level, the vessel is connected to a support system. However, here the support system was dislodged even before the water reached its specified level to make the vessel float, said sources in the Indian Navy.
Interestingly, the undocking procedure had been evaluated for the past two days before the accident happened, and the dock master had carried out the inspection of the site.
The fatality could have been more had it not been for timely action, said Navy sources.
During the undocking, more than 100 personnel, including officers and sailors, were inside the vessel “We cut the outer portion of the ship to get inside and after locating the people inside the compartments and people were rescued within a few hours” added the official.
But the two Navy sailors, NK Rai, a chief engine room artificer (CH ERA) and Ashutosh Pandey, an acting lead mechanical engineer, were killed while 14 others were injured.