Indian navy lacks submarine damage control, firefighting training: report

The Indian navy lacks training facility for its crew on different aspects of damage control and firefighting inside a submarine, the country's Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) has observed in one its reports tabled before the parliament recently, English daily "The Hindu" quoted the CAG report as saying on Monday.

According to the report, a proposal for requirement of a simulator to train in damage control and firefighting had been hanging in balance for nearly four years, and was yet to be approved by authorities.

In April 2014, the "INS Satavahana", the dedicated school for imparting submarine training, submitted a proposal to the submarine headquarters, indicating the requirement of a simulator to train in damage control and firefighting.

"The proposal has, however, not yet been approved by the competent authority," said the CAG report, according to the English daily.

With no proper submarine training facility in place in the country, limited practical training is imparted through attachment to the Indian navy's facilities for damage control and firefighting, which are based on the layout of ships.

In August 2013, Russian-built Kilo class submarine "INS Sindhurakshak" sank in the Mumbai harbour after an explosion on board, killing 18 sailors. In the next year, a fire on board "INS Sindhuratna" killed two officers, following which the then Navy chief Admiral D.K. Joshi, resigned taking responsibility for the mishap.

Thereafter a board was set up which recommended for a critical training facility in the country to impart damage control and fire-fighting inside a submarine.

"Even after identifying the requirement of a critical training facility and recommendations by a Board, which investigated a major submarine accident, there is undue delay in procurement and installation of the same," the report added.

According to the newspaper report, India has an ageing submarine fleet, most of which are getting mid-life upgrades to keep them active for another 15-20 years. The Indian navy inducted the first of the French Scorpene submarines "INS Kalvari" in December last year. This was the first new submarine induction in almost two decades.

Training in damage control and firefighting assumes even greater importance as India inducts nuclear submarines into its fleet. Indigenously built ballistic missile nuclear submarine (SSBN) "INS Arihant" was inducted in 2016. Besides, the country has the nuclear attack submarine (SSN) "INS Chakra" which is on lease from Russia.