Addressing a news conference here, Admiral Joshi described the submerging-sinking of the INS Sindhurakshak as unfortunate and a terrible tragedy, and added that the Navy remains hopeful about the possibility of sailors surviving, but at the same time is prepared for the worst.
"At the time of the incident, only the submarine's duty watch was on board that comprised of three officers and 15 sailors. The rest of the crew was ashore," Admiral Joshi said.
He said that the Indian Navy does not have an answer as to what caused the fire as of now.
"Initially, there was a primary explosion of smaller intensity, which caused the bigger explosions......Whilst fuel, hydrogen, ammunition, explosives are on board there are also safeties built in. Fire is not supposed to happen but quite obviously the safety mechanisms have not functioned," said Admiral Joshi.
"We will need to examine this in detail, gather all the forensic evidence," he added.
Admiral Joshi said that just short of midnight there were two rapid and near simultaneous major explosions on board the submarine, which resulted in a major and rapid spread of fire on board.
"The fire spread rapidly and along with the effort of Mumbai fire brigade, it took around two hours to douse the fire. In the process, the water ingress that took place from the forward end of submarine.....as also the water that was used for dousing out the fire resulted in simultaneous flooding of the submarine," he added.
Admiral Joshi informed that currently the submarine is sitting in three metres of water, and added that a portion of the hull depending on the state of the tide and the range of tide currently is around one-and-a-half metres.
"We do not rule out the possibility of sabotage, but it seems unlikely. The inquiry board will go into detail. One cannot lose hope till you have sighted them," he said.
The Navy Chief further said that the names of all those on board will be released at an appropriate time.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony earlier in the day offered his heartfelt condolence to the families of sailors trapped in Indian Navy submarine INS Sindhurakshak, which caught fire after three explosions and sank at the naval dockyard in Mumbai late last night.
Antony, who visited the naval dockyard in Mumbai along with Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and the Navy Chief, said the Indian Navy has ordered a board of inquiry, which will look into all details about the incident.
"I came here to express the nation's solidarity and condolence to the Indian Navy. It's a shocking tragedy. Navy has already ordered a board of inquiry. The board will go into all details about the incident," Antony told media here.
"I express my heartfelt condolence to the families of sailors who were inside this submarine. We will extend all humanly possible support and assistance and relief to members of each sailor's family," he added.
The Defence Minister earlier in the day briefed Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh over the INS Sindhurakshak fire tragedy.
About 18 persons, including three officers and 15 crew, were on board the submarine at the time of the accident and efforts are on to ascertain the safety of the personnel and salvage of the submarine.
A Board of Inquiry is being instituted to investigate into the causes of the accident.
A Board of Inquiry is being instituted to investigate into the causes of the accident. Armed with its latest multi-role missile system, radar and electronics, the submarine was to be the backbone of the Indian Navy.
INS Sindhurakshak, a Type 877EKM in Russia, was constructed at St. Petersburg in 1997.
The submarine was designed to patrol and to protect naval communications, assault warships, enemy submarines, land targets and perform naval reconnaissance.
It is one of the quietest diesel-electric submarines in the world mainly intended for anti-ship and anti-submarine operations.
These submarines have a displacement of 3,000 tonnes, a maximum diving depth of 300 meters, top speed of 18 knots, and are able to operate for 45 days without refueling.
10 Kilo-class submarines were constructed in Russia's shipyards for the Indian Navy from 1985-2000.
--ANI (Posted on 15-08-2013)