India Navy Sailors Rescued After Submarine Accident

The Indian navy rescued sailors from one of its Russian-built Kilo class submarines after an incident off the coast of Mumbai, the second such event in six months, prompting the naval chief of staff to resign.

Seven of the crew were airlifted and treated for smoke inhalation on the INS Sindhuratna, which was inducted into the Indian fleet in 1988, Rahul Sinha, a Mumbai-based naval spokesman, said in a telephone interview. Chief of Naval Staff D.K. Joshi resigned today, saying he takes “moral responsibility” for the accidents, according to a statement.

Indian naval vessels in the area were coordinating the rescue mission as efforts were on to locate missing sailors, Sinha said. India’s navy has a fleet of 16 submarines, including 10 diesel-electric Kilo class vessels. They have a maximum diving depth of 300 meters (984 feet), a top speed of 18 knots and are able to operate for 45 days with a crew of 53 people, according to the navy’s website.

Russian-made submarines have experienced accidents over the past 15 years. Twenty Russians died on a vessel when a faulty firefighting system was accidentally activated during trials in the Sea of Japan in 2008. The Kursk sank in August 2000 after an onboard explosion in the Barents Sea, killing all 118 on board.

In a Mumbai dockyard early on Aug. 14, explosions and fire inside the INS Sindhurakshak killed 18 men and left no survivors. That was the worst submarine accident in the country’s history and the biggest setback for the navy since the loss of a warship in 1971 during a conflict with Pakistan.

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