The Navy inducted the submarine INS Kalvari in December 2017, a first in almost two decades. Report points to undue delay in securing simulators for training in damage control and firefighting

No facility exists for training Navy crew on various aspects of damage control and firefighting in a submarine, the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) has observed in a report. This is among a series of deficiencies in training noted by the federal auditor.

In April 2014, INS Satavahana, the dedicated school for imparting all facets of 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,” the CAG said in the report tabled in Parliament last week.

As a result, limited practical training is imparted through attachment to the Navy’s facilities for damage control and firefighting, which are based on the layout of ships.

“Thus, 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 noted.

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, submitted his resignation.

India has an ageing submarine fleet most of which are getting mid-life upgrades to keep them active for another 15-20 years. The Navy inducted the first of the French Scorpene submarines, INS Kalvari, in December last year. This is 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 quietly inducted in 2016, and follow on boats are in various stages of testing and construction. India also has the nuclear attack submarine (SSN) INS Chakra, which is on lease from Russia.

Critical Need

Against this backdrop, the Navy is in the process of inducting two deep submergence rescue vessel systems from a U.K.-based firm, which are critical in case of any disaster in the depths of the sea.

The report highlighted delays in the completion of the Naval Academy Project at Ezhimala, non-availability of training equipment for new induction platforms, a deficiency in quality of training and other issues.

“The results of internal assessments of training establishments, as well as engine room watch keeping certificate and weighted input output analysis, brought out various deficiencies in the training imparted,” the report noted.