On 6 November 2014, the Indian navy’s torpedo recovery vessel sank while returning to the Visakhapatnam harbour following a routine torpedo recovery mission. One sailor has been killed and four naval personnel are missing. Sameer Patil, associate fellow for national security, ethnic conflict and terrorism at Gateway House, has issued a number of statements in the past emphasising the need to replace the ageing fleet and improve the operational preparedness of the navy. The vessel in question was inducted in service 31 years ago. The statement below addresses the urgent need to tackle the problems posed by a growing number of naval incidents.
“The sinking of the torpedo recovery vessel (TRV) on 6 November 2014 marks yet another addition to the series of incidents that India’s navy has faced this year such as the accidents on board the INS Ganga, INS Kolkata and INS Sindhuratna. Though the TRV was not a major ship, its sinking is likely to raise further questions regarding the operational capabilities of India’s ageing naval fleet.
Besides the problems associated with an ageing fleet, modernisation of the navy is also a strategic imperative for India considering issues such as India’s growing external commercial interests, coastal security, the challenge of piracy, and a growing Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean region. Boosting India’s naval capabilities, by focusing on major ships and equipment such as submarines, frigates and aircrafts, has been a priority for many years.
However, the induction of this equipment has been delayed due to bureaucratic interruptions, India’s protracted weapons acquisition process, and the public sector shipyards’ lack of capacity to keep up with the navy’s requirements, among other reasons. As a result, the fleet of auxiliary ships is yet to get newer vessels. This delay is causing accidents such as the one that occurred yesterday. Therefore, India’s political and bureaucratic machinery needs to expedite pending proposals to upgrade naval equipment, before any more such tragedies occur.”
For more information or interview requests, please contact Reetika Joshi at email@example.com.