INS Sindhurakshak (S63)

INS Sindhurakshak (Sanskrit, for Protector of the Seas)[3] was a Russian-made Kilo-class 877EKM[4][5][6] (Sindhughosh-class) diesel-electric submarine of the Indian Navy.[7] Commissioned on 24 December 1997, it was the ninth of the ten Kilo-class submarines in the Indian Navy.[8] On 4 June 2010, the Indian Defence Ministry and Zvezdochka shipyard signed a contract worth US$80 million to upgrade and overhaul the submarine. After the overhaul, it returned to India from Russia between May and June 2013.[9]

INS Sindhurakshak (S63).jpg
INS Sindhurakshak
Name: INS Sindhurakshak
Builder: Admiralty Shipyard, Saint Petersburg
Laid down: 16 February 1995
Launched: 26 June 1997
Commissioned: 24 December 1997
Decommissioned: 6 March 2017[1]
Out of service: 14 August 2013
Identification: Pennant number: S63
Fate: Severely damaged on 14 August 2013 due to on-board explosions; sunk in deep water in Arabian Sea in June 2017
Badge: INS Sindhurakshak
General characteristics
Class and type: Sindhughosh-class submarine
  • 2,325 t (2,563 short tons) surfaced
  • 3,076 t (3,391 short tons) submerged
Length: 72.6 m (238 ft)
Beam: 9.9 m (32 ft)
Draught: 6.6 m (22 ft)
  • 2 × 3,650 hp (2,720 kW) diesel-electric motors
  • 1 × 5,900 hp (4,400 kW) motor
  • 2 × 204 hp (152 kW) auxiliary motors
  • 1 × 130 hp (97 kW) economic speed motor
  • Surfaced: 10 knots (19 km/h)
  • Snorkel Mode: 9 knots (17 km/h)
  • Submerged: 17 knots (31 km/h)
  • Snorkel Mode: 6,000 mi (9,700 km) at 7 kn (13 km/h)
  • Submerged: 400 miles (640 km) at 3 knots (5.6 km/h)
Endurance: Up to 45 days with a crew of 52
Test depth:
  • Operational depth: 240 m (790 ft)
  • Maximum depth: 300 m (980 ft)
Complement: Seven officers and 61 ratings[2]
  • 9M36 Strela-3 (SA-N-8) surface-to-air missile
  • 3M-54 Klub-S anti-ship and land-attack missiles
  • Type 53-65 passive wake-homing torpedo
  • TEST 71/76 anti-submarine active-passive homing torpedo
  • 24 × DM-1 mines in lieu of torpedo tube

The submarine suffered a major fire and explosion on 14 August 2013 and sank at Mumbai's naval dockyard with the death of 18 crew members.[10][11][12][13]


Sindhurakshak was constructed at the Admiralty Shipyard in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Construction of the submarine began in 1995. It was launched in June 1997 and delivered to India in December 1997.[8][14]

Service historyEdit

Kargil war (1999)Edit

Sindhurakshak was deployed very close to Karachi, Pakistan during the Kargil War in 1999.[15][16]

President Kalam (2006)Edit

President APJ Abdul Kalam on-board Sindhurakshak

On 13 February 2006, during the submarine's deployment in Vishakhapatnam under the Eastern Naval Command, the then President of India A. P. J. Abdul Kalam became the first Indian head of state to sail in a submarine. He was given a demonstrative excursion, during which the submarine dived and sailed in the Bay of Bengal for a few hours. He was accompanied by the Chief of Naval Staff Arun Prakash. The submarine was commanded by Commander P S Bisht.[17][18]

Accident (2010)Edit

A fire broke out aboard Sindhurakshak while the vessel was in Visakhapatnam in February 2010. One sailor was killed and two others were injured. Navy officials reported that the fire had been caused by an explosion in the submarine's battery compartment, which occurred due to a faulty battery valve that leaked hydrogen gas.[19][20]


After the fire damage in 2010, Sindhurakshak was transported to Russia on board a heavy lift ship from Visakhapatnam in June 2010 for refit, overhaul and upgrade which lasted two and a half years.[21] In August 2010, Sindhurakshak arrived at the Zvezdochka shipyard in Russia. The submarine was modernised, repaired and retrofitted under Project 08773, and after the upgrade, the sea trials started in October 2012. The upgrades included improved electronic warfare systems, an integrated weapon control system and a new cooling system, and were expected to extend the service life of the submarine by ten years.[19][22] The Club-S (3M54E1 anti-ship and 3M14E land attack) missiles, USHUS sonar, СCS-MK-2 radio communication systems and Porpoise radio-locating radar, and other safety-enhancing features were incorporated.[8] The submarine was handed back to the Indian Navy on 27 January 2013,[14] after which it sailed back to India, under Commander Rajesh Ramkumar. This was the first time an Indian submarine had navigated under ice.[23][24][25]

Sindhurakshak at Portsmouth, UK, where it was berthed on its way to India after the mid-life overhaul

Incident in the MediterraneanEdit

In March 2013, while returning from the refit, Sindhurakshak encountered severe storms in the Mediterranean Sea when it was travelling near Alexandria. This was part of the submarine's extensive three-month-long deployment, where it traveled 10,000 miles.[22][26] The severity of the storms prevented the Alexandria port authorities from sending a tugboat, and the shallow waters prevented the submarine from diving. An emergency call was placed via the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to the Egyptian Navy, which sent its latest tugboats and towed the submarine to Port Said.[27][28]

Explosion and sinking (2013)Edit

On 14 August 2013, the Sindhurakshak sank after explosions caused by a fire on board when the submarine was berthed at Mumbai. The fire, followed by a series of ordnance blasts on the armed submarine, occurred shortly after midnight. The fire was put out within two hours though, due to damage from the explosions, the submarine sank and was partially submerged in 15 metres deep water at its berth, with only a portion of the sail visible above the water surface.[29][30][22][31][32] Three sailors on board reportedly jumped off to safety. Navy divers were also brought in as there was a possibility that 18 personnel were trapped inside and Defence Minister A. K. Antony confirmed that there were fatalities.[12] Other sources stated that a small explosion occurred around midnight which then triggered the two larger explosions.[22]

Due to the explosion, the front section of the submarine was twisted, bent and crumpled, and water had entered the forward compartment. Another submarine, INS Sindhughosh was berthed very close to Sindhurakshak in the congested Mumbai naval dockyard; and sustained minor fire damage, though the navy did not release details of the extent of damage.[29][33] Sindhurakshak's double hull was credited with preventing further damage to surrounding vessels.[34][31][35] Official sources at the time said it was "highly unlikely" the submarine could be returned to service. The navy planned to begin salvage operations after the rescue operation was completed.[36][37] By 19 August, seven bodies had been recovered, with 11 still missing.[38][39][40] On 31 August, six of the eleven recovered bodies had been identified and sent home for last rites with military honours.[41]

The Navy's preliminary report indicated that "an accident or inadvertent mishandling of ammunition" was the cause of the explosions; the full incident report would only be completed after the submarine was raised.[42][43][44] The salvage contract was awarded on 31 January 2014 to Resolve India, a subsidiary of the US-based Resolve Marine Group.[45] The submarine was brought to the surface on 6 June 2014.[46] In December 2014, a naval court of inquiry arrived at the preliminary conclusion that human error as a result of crew fatigue caused the disaster. A senior officer stated that "the crew was working beyond their prescribed hours. Fatigue and exhaustion may have triggered human error that led to the accident. Standard operating procedures were violated at several levels".[47] A 2017 report by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India quoted the Navy's Board of Inquiry stating that "Submarine authorities concerned didn’t properly assess the crew fatigue, besides, the submarine was holding ammunition nearing life expiry".[48]

Initially, the navy was hopeful of using Sindhurakshak after it was salvaged, but on Navy Day 2015, Vice Admiral Cheema confirmed the Sindhurakshak would be disposed of.[49][50][51] After a period of use for the training of marine commandos, the submarine was sunk in 3000 metres of water in the Arabian Sea during June 2017.[52][53]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Submarine Sindhurakshak to be decommissioned before rains - Times of India". The Times of India. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  2. ^ "Sindhughosh Class". Indian Navy. Archived from the original on 19 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  3. ^ "18 sailors feared killed in INS Sindhurakshak explosion". Livemint. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  4. ^ "Project 877 Paltus Kilo-class Submarine". Rian. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  5. ^ "INS Sindhurakshak tragedy: Defence PRO says chances of survivors unlikely". India Today. 16 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  6. ^ "'India should seek Russian help in INS Sindhurakshak rescue': Defence experts". Business Standard. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  7. ^ "Sindhughosh Class - Active submarines of the Indian Navy". Indian Navy. Archived from the original on 19 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  8. ^ a b c "INS Sindhurakshak was refitted in Russia's Zvezdochka shipyard". India Today. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  9. ^ "Fire-ravaged Indian Navy submarine sinks, Antony confirms deaths". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  10. ^ "Submarine INS Sindhurakshak sinks after major blast in Mumbai; all 18 feared dead". Deccan Chronicle. 14 August 2013. Archived from the original on 17 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  11. ^ "Submarine Sindhurakshak sinks after blast, casualties feared". The Hindu. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  12. ^ a b "India's defence minister confirms deaths on submarine". ITV. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  13. ^ "Huge blow to Indian Navy as submarine explodes with 18 men". The Times of India. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  14. ^ a b "Russia hands over to India refitted submarine". Zee News. 27 January 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  15. ^ "Torpedoes are coolest place to sleep on". The Times of India. 17 August 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  16. ^ Dey, J (17 August 2013). "INS Sindhurakshak tragedy: We revisit the late J Dey's 2009 report on the submarine". Mid Day. Mumbai. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  17. ^ "Kalam's sortie in INS Sindhurakshak". The Hindu. 14 February 2006. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  18. ^ "When an ecstatic Kalam rode the INS Sindhurakshak". India Today. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  19. ^ a b "Explosion on Indian Navy submarine INS Sindhurakshak possibly due to gas buildup". 14 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  20. ^ "Fire mishap on INS Sindhurakshak due to explosion in battery: Navy". Hindustan Times. 27 February 2010. Archived from the original on 17 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  21. ^ Commodore (Retd) Ranjit B Rai. "The Indian Navy's Submarine Arm is Dependable". India Strategic. Retrieved 23 November 2013.
  22. ^ a b c d "Explosion Partly Sinks Indian Naval Submarine". The New York Times. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  23. ^ "Sindhurakshak Set". Russian Embassy, India. 27 June 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  24. ^ "Russia to modernize fifth Indian submarine". RIA Novosti. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
  25. ^ "Zvezdochka Ship Repair Delivers Upgraded Submarine Sindhurakshak to Indian Navy". Naval Today. 1 February 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  26. ^ "Russian-Built Submarine Catches Fire in Mumbai, Sailors Feared Dead". The Moscow Times. 15 August 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  27. ^ "Egyptian Navy rescued Sindhurakshak in April". The Indian Express. 15 August 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  28. ^ "Indian submarine INS Sindhurakshak in distress gets Egyptian help". The Economic Times. 27 May 2013. Retrieved 15 August 2013.
  29. ^ a b "International help to salvage sunken submarine". Business Standard. 20 August 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  30. ^ "PHOTOS: INS Sindhurakshak submarine submerges after explosion Photo Gallery, Picture News Gallery". The Indian Express. Archived from the original on 18 August 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2013.
  31. ^ a b "INS Sindhurakshak fire set off torpedoes causing minor damage to INS Sindhuratna; fate of 18 sailors on board, Initial immediate Salvage was conducted by Grafftech Marine & Engineering Pvt Ltd, a registered marine firm with the Indian Navy for providing diving & dredging services, the Salvage operation was headed as an joint military operations by Capt. Varun Singh MARCOS OIC CCDT & Dypt CEO (Salvage Expert) - Harish Naidu under the continued monitoring of INS VAJRABAHU IMMEDIATE BASE-HQ for ekm submarines, HQWNC, CCDT (Command clearance diving team) HQ-WNC (Headquarters Western Naval Command), initial cadaver were salvaged in multiple parts". DNA India. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  32. ^ "Fears for 18 as Indian navy submarine explodes and sinks in Mumbai". The Guardian. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  33. ^ "Divers reach front cabin". The Telegraph. 19 August 2013. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  34. ^ "INS Sindhurakshak tragedy: Submarine's twin hulls contained fire, reduced losses". The Indian Express. 16 August 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  35. ^ "INS Sindhurakshak: A Sindhughosh-class submarine with latest weapons". IBN Live. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  36. ^ "INS Sindurakshak: Indian Navy mulls over roping in Singapore firm for salvage". DNA India. 16 August 2013. Retrieved 16 August 2013.
  37. ^ "INS Sindhurakshak: Indian navy's submarine woes". BBC News. 14 August 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  38. ^ "Seventh body recovered from INS Sindhurakshak". The Hindu. 19 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  39. ^ "INS Sindhurakshak: Sixth body recovered, divers continue search in zero visibility". The Indian Express. 18 August 2013. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  40. ^ "Navy divers recover 5 bodies from Indian submarine INS Sindhurakshak". CNN. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  41. ^ PTI (31 August 2013). "Sindhurakshak tragedy: Six bodies to be sent to hometowns". Zee News. Retrieved 31 August 2013.
  42. ^ "Forget salvaging sunk sub INS Sindhurakshak, Navy yet to float tender". DNA India. 25 September 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  43. ^ "Navy's probe into submarine INS Sindhurakshak tragedy nowhere near completion". The Times of India. 19 September 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  44. ^ Nazakat, Syed; Dasgupta, Anupam (3 March 2014). "'Sub'dued". The Week. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  45. ^ Narayan, V (13 February 2014). "Indian arm of US company wins Sindhurakshak salvage bid". The Times of India. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  46. ^ "US firm salvages INS Sindhurakshak out of water". Firstpost. 6 June 2014.
  47. ^ "Tired crew may have caused mishap on INS Sindhurakshak". Hindustan Times. 9 December 2014. Archived from the original on 22 December 2014.
  48. ^ "Indian Navy likely to appoint inspector general to ensure safety of warships". Hindustan Times. 20 July 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  49. ^ Mumbai (4 December 2015). "Submarine Sindhurakshak to be disposed of soon: Vice Admiral". The Indian Express. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  50. ^ "Indian Navy hopeful of using submarine that sank". Hindustan Times. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  51. ^ "Possible reuse of Sindhurakshak being explored". The Hindu. 3 December 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2013.
  52. ^ Singh, Rahul (10 July 2017). "Defunct submarine Sindhurakshak finally disposed of". Hindustan Times. New Delhi. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  53. ^ Rajput, Rashmi (5 September 2017). "Navy sinks 'graveyard' INS Sindhurakshak". The Indian Express. Retrieved 11 September 2017.

External linksEdit