New Delhi: Nearly 18 months after an explosion on board submarine INS Sindhurakshak sunk the vessel, killing 18 personnel, Navy Chief Admiral R K Dhowan today indicated that human error besides other factors could have led to the tragedy.
Addressing a press conference on the eve of Navy Day, he noted that a submarine is a "dangerous platform" because it has explosives, fuel and a lot of equipment.
"In this environment, when procedures don't get followed, there is a room for error. And whenever there is a room for error, accidents take place. So, this is a situation like that where (while) carrying out a particular activity, procedures were not being followed," he said.
The submarine met with the accident on 14 August 2013. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had last month said in a written reply in Parliament that the examination of the Board of Inquiry (BOI) in the case has not been completed yet. The BOI report is still with the Naval headquarters, he had said.
Dhowan said, "The BOI is in its process of evaluation. What I can share with you is that there are aspects related to procedures which need to be followed when you are handling equipment, ammunition or a submarine."
He said that the navy is a technologically advanced service where you have standard operating and safety procedures laid down for every aspect.
"If an emergency is not tackled in the way it is supposed to be tackled, it perhaps can lead to situations," he said.
Asked if the accident was due to human error, Dhowan said it was a "very, very serious accident" as an explosion was not normally expected to happen in a submarine.
Dhowan said that the BOI is looking at all aspects of what may have gone wrong.
"It is not one cause because there are a series of issues which had led to the accident. It could be aspects of not following procedure, of what was on at that point of time, what activity, what was the initial trigger, what got it aggravated and to what extent by something not being done correctly," he said.
"All aspects are being taken into account and that is the reason why this inquiry is taking a lot of time," he said.
The Navy Chief said that remedial measures have already been put in place after the mishap as the force has a "fairly good idea about what had gone wrong".
He said all submarines and ships have been notified about the procedures to be followed in respect of maintenance, ammunition, etc.
The sunk submarine was salvaged earlier this year and navy sources said that a decision is yet to be taken on the future course of action regarding the vessel.