Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Business Standard gets it right on INS Sindhurakshak

Business Standard has an article on INS Sindhurakshak that is very detailed and explains things wonderfully well, courtesy of Vice-Admiral (Retired) A. K. Singh.

1. A straight-out confirmation of the same issue the diagram shows - the torpedo storage is above the battery compartment in the Kilo class and it is a genuine danger.

2. Hydrogen fire/explosion + munitions explosion suggested.

3. The torpedoes carried on board are the 53-65 and the TEST 71-76. The TEST is a battery-powered torpedo but the 53-65 runs off a mixture of kerosene and either hydrogen peroxide or oxygen.

The submarine really was carrying torpedoes capable of replicating the Kursk accident - this point has to be driven home. It remains to be seen what the Board of Enquiry finds regarding the torpedoes. The British and the Americans got rid of Kerosene-Peroxide torpedoes after the loss of HMS Sidon in 1955, but the Russians persisted in using them. Kursk showed that it was not a good idea - is this or is this not another warning that Peroxide has no place on a submarine?

4. Explosions suggested to have been between 500-1000 kilograms of high explosive, and the missiles carry warheads of up to 450 kilograms (ouch!). A 200 kilogram torpedo warhead is bad enough but multiple explosions from the missiles and torpedoes on board would get rid of the front of the sub. Like the Admiral himself says, it's good that the Kilo class has a double hull.

5. The 2010 battery fire was caused by a ventilation system malfunction that let gas build up. The batteries were made by Exide, but the ventilation system appears to have been Russian. So the fault seems to lie with the Russians for not fixing it.

6. Or maybe the Russians aren't to blame after all. Crucial information right here - submarines in the dock are charged from a shore supply rather than using their own diesels. Did this cause a violation of normal operating procedures regarding ventilation? Was the sub's ventilation system simply switched off rather than malfunctioning? More unanswered questions.

I suppose I'll leave things here for this evening. When Admirals start throwing in their two cents, geeks like me can only sit and watch.

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