String of recent accidents has put a question mark over the state of health of the fleet.
06 Mar 2014
Ajai Shukla writes on strategic affairs, defence and diplomacy. He is a former army colonel, and now based in New Delhi.
The recent spate of fatal accident have brought the effectiveness of the navy into question [File: Reuters]
Since the turn of the century, India has invested heavily in building the navy it needs for dominating the northern Indian Ocean, a crucial maritime highway for the flow of hydrocarbons from West Asia to China, Japan and the Southeast Asian countries; and for the transportation to Europe of merchandise from those manufacturing economies.
With China's military a looming presence on its Himalayan border with Tibet, New Delhi has long derived strategic assurance from its potential stranglehold over China’s sea lines of communication, or SLOCs, as these maritime highways are termed.
Follow our special India coverage
Over the last seven months, however, a spate of accidents involving Indian Navy warships has placed a question mark over this capability.
On February 26, the navy chief, Admiral Devendra Kumar Joshi, resigned after an accident in which two officers were killed and five sailors seriously injured while fighting a fire in INS Sindhuratna, one of the navy's nine Russian Kilo-class submarines.
This was not the first such incident. On August 14 last year, a catastrophic explosion inside INS Sindhurakshak, another Kilo-class submarine that was berthed in Mumbai, killed all 18 sailors on board and sunk the vessel.
The surface fleet has been as accident-prone. In 2011, a frigate sank after colliding with a merchant vessel.