A cable fire seems to have been the cause of a the fire that led to the deaths of two naval officers in the accident on INS Sindhuratna last week according to the preliminary findings of the board of inquiry. According to reliable naval sources, the fire occurred in plastic-covered cables connecting the batteries to the electrical systems of the submarine.
Once the fire alarm went off, Lt Commander Kapish Muwal and Lt Manoranjan Kumar rushed to the spot but collapsed after inhaling the dense black smoke, according to the preliminary findings. The captain of the submarine, Commander Sandip Sinha rushed into the third compartment to try and rescue the two officers but couldn’t do so because of the dense black smoke, naval sources said on the condition of anonymity since they are not authorized to speak to the media.
The fire in submarine INS Sindhuratna, which resulted in the death of two officers and severely affected seven other sailors last week, was caused due to problems in the cables of the vessel. It is believed that the heavy smoke that was observed in the compartment came from the gutting of these cables, possibly due to a short circuit. As soon as it was detected, the compartment was sealed and the fire extinguishing system was activated. The heroic action of the two officers — Lt Commanders Kapish Muwal and Manoranjan Kumar — who died on board, is believed to have saved many lives on board the submarine. Officials said the two officers rushed to the compartment as soon as alarm bells went out and ordered an evacuation.
Following the evacuation, they sealed the compartment and manned a battery-monitoring station near the sailor’s accommodation as a battery problem was suspected to have been the reason for the smoke. The duo are believed to have died at the monitoring station after the fire extinguishing system was activated that effectively sucks the entire oxygen of the compartment to put out the fire. Investigations in the accident are still on by a Rear Admiral-led board of officers.
The board of inquiry (BoI) into the February 26 accident has found that the fire in INS Sindhuratna was caused due to problems in the cable and not the battery compartment, as was being feared earlier, Navy officials said here.
The investigations are still going on into the incident and other two accidents involving the Kilo class submarines of the Navy in the last seven months, they said.
The battery pit has been found to be fully safe and the fire took place in the compartment above it, Navy officials said.
The Sindhuratna is one of the navy’s fleet of nine Kilo class submarines. A tenth submarine, the INS Sindhurakshak exploded and sank in the naval dockyard on August 14, 2013 killing 18 crewmen on board. The Sindhuratna was moored nearby and suffered minor fire damage when the Sindhurakshak exploded.