Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Death of a Kilo--Part One of Two

Wednesday, August 14th, just after midnight, a hideous fireball lit the night sky over the Mumbai, India waterfront. It signalled the deaths of eighteen submariners, officers and crew members of the Indian navy’s submarine INS Sindhurakshak. The blast was felt around the world in the submarine community, as is every serious submarine accident.  
A Kilo class boat built in Russia, the Sindhurakshak was commissioned in 1997, undergoing an extensive refit in 2010-2012. 
 Pictured here during a visit to Portsmouth, England, the boat when operational would carry a crew of 52 officers and men.
Slightly larger than the Canadian navy’s Victoria-class, the Kilos have similar characteristics and capabilities in terms of antisurface and antisubmarine warfare. In both classes the main weapon is the 21-inch torpedo, although the Kilos are also fitted with cruise missiles designed to target surface ships.
It is noteworthy that the extensive refit was necessitated by a fire that occurred on board in 2010 with the loss of a life. Later, it was reported that the fire had been caused by an explosion in the submarine's battery compartment. Battery compartment fires are usually caused by a buildup and explosion of hydrogen, a constant source of risk for submariners. 

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