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Vessel sinking: Search on for 4 missing Navy personnel

November 07
03:14 2014

Vessel sinking Search on for 4 missing Navy personnelNEW DELHI: Four Navy personnel, including an officer, remained missing today after a vessel sank off the Vishakhapatnam coast last night and a full scale search is underway to trace them.

A Board of Inquiry has also been set up to look into the cause of the mishap of the Torpedo Recovery Vessel in which one sailor died. 23 others were rescued.

In view of the accident, Navy Chief Admiral R K Dhowan, who is on a four-day visit to Seychelles till November 9, is cutting short his visit to reach Visakhapatnam, Navy officials said.

Nine ships of the Eastern fleet and a few aircraft including Boeing P81, Dorniers, SKG 42C with night vision capabilities and Chetak helicopters have been deployed through the night to search for missing personnel, Navy spokesperson D K Sharma said.

Citing preliminary information, the Navy sources said the “probable reason” for the sinking of the vessel seems to be ingress of sea-water in the Engine room and Aft Steering compartment.

This, they said, could have been because one of the seals in the shaft gave way, which is a maintenance issue.

This particular ship was built by Goa Shipyard Limited in 1983 and has served the Navy for the last 31 years.

Sources said the average age of a ship is usually 20-25 years but there has been cases when older ships have continued to be in service for longer.

The Navy had released a statement last night saying that there were 28 personnel on board at the time of accident.

The desired load of this vessel is about a crew of 13 but sources said operational requirements have to be factored in.

“The Board of Inquiry headed by a Captain will go into all aspects of the accident,” a senior Naval officer said.

The vessel had sunk at 8 PM last night while it was on a “routine” mission to recover practice torpedoes fired by fleet ships during a “routine” exercise, the Navy statement had said. . At the time of the accident, there were also scientists from Navy’s NSDL lab and members of naval armaments inspection team, sources said.

“One sailor has lost his life during the rescue operation and four personnel are reported missing. Twenty three personnel have been rescued safely by the Search and Rescue (SAR) ships dispatched to the area,” the Navy statement said.

The latest accident is one of the many in the series that the Navy has witnessed over the last one year.

The then Navy Chief D K Joshi quit in the wake of a series of accidents earlier this year.

Among the major mishaps was a fire on INS Sindhuratna, which left two sailors dead.

On October 31, INS Kora suffered minor damage after it was scraped by a merchant vessel near Visakhapatnam.

This freak accident has raised eyebrows in the defense establishment since a naval ship is bound to be alert all the time when it is out in the sea.

They have radars on board which warns of nearby ships.–PTI

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