Rahul Bedi, New Delhi – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly — 03 February 2014
INS Airavat steams out of Vizag harbour in May 2009 after its commissioning. The Shardul-class LST ran aground on 30 January while returning home to Visakhapatnam harbour. Source: Press Information Bureau of India
The Indian Navy (IN) continues to be beset by accidents involving its frontline warships.
In the service’s seventh accident since the start of December, INS Airavat , its newest 6000-tonne landing ship tank (LST), ran aground and severely damaged its propellers on 30 January while returning home to Visakhapatnam harbour.
IN officials told Jane’s on 3 February that a board of inquiry is being instituted to determine whether the incident was due to human error or problems posed by the ongoing dredging of the harbour.
Built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers in Kolkata and commissioned in May 2009, the 125 m-long Airavat is the IN’s third Shardul-class LST.
The accident follows others involving three guided-missile frigates, a minesweeper, a corvette, and a Kilo-class diesel-electric submarine. Official inquiries have been ordered into all these mishaps, which the IN has described as “minor” although it has relieved the captains of two of the frigates of their commands.
Meanwhile, the IN’s current difficulties were further aggravated in late January after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) ordered an inquiry into an alleged leak of sensitive documents by a senior officer from the Directorate of Naval Operations.
Captain Manoj Rawat, who faces dismissal for his involvement in an extramarital affair, is alleged to have passed on secret documents to his now ex-lover. In a complaint to IN headquarters at his refusal to marry her, the woman reportedly included copies of several official documents that she claimed to have received from Capt Rawat during their affair.
Senior IN officials, however, believe these documents are research papers collated from open sources.
The MoD is concerned over the matter following a 2006 security breach in the Directorate of Naval Operations, in which sensitive documents relating to equipment purchases were allegedly passed on to arms dealers.
Several IN officers were dismissed, but the case has not been finalised as it awaits the extradition of one of the principals from the UK.