The Indian Navy has signed a INR contract with Resolve Marine Group to lift the 3850-tonne frigate INS Betwa that tipped over at the Mumbai naval dockyard killing two sailors and injuring 14 others on December 6 last year.
The Brahmaputra-class frigate ‘slipped from her dock blocks’, tilted and then crashed flat on her left side while being undocked during maintenance refit, according to the Naval board of inquiry, Times of India reported quoting unnamed sources as saying Saturday.
“Strict action will be taken against the personnel, including the dock-masters, found guilty of lapses. But the BoI findings will have to be confirmed by higher authorities, first by the Western Naval Command at Mumbai and then by Navy headquarters in New Delhi,” said a source.
With the main naval dry dock at Mumbai blocked by INS Betwa, the Navy wants the frigate to be salvaged and made battle-ready to re-join the fleet as soon as possible. The salvage firm, Resolve Marine Group, has sought a month to mobilise its resources from different places as well as build the “required rigs and sponsons” for the complicated operation.
“It should take another month after that to make the frigate upright,” said the source. The mishap apparently occurred due to the miscalculation of the “load distribution equilibrium” required in the complex and delicate undocking procedure, leaving the frigate heavily damaged with at least 25% flooding in its compartments, as was reported by TOI earlier.
The incident occurred when the process of flooding the dry dock was in progress after completion of the frigate’s “underwater repair package”.
At that time, the dock also had missile boat INS Pralay, a tug and a Caisson lock-gate (large floating iron) in close vicinity of INS Betwa. Commissioned in July 2004, INS Betwa had begun the two-year medium maintenance refit at the dockyard in April last year.