One of the crown jewels of the Indian Navy, a $2.9 billion ballistic-missile submarine, was sidelined for over 10 months because someone left a hatch open.
The INS Arihant suffered “major damage” shortly after it was commissioned in 2016 due to something out of a submariner’s worst nightmares: Someone forgot to close a hatch. The incident happened in Visakhapatnam harbor shortly after the vessel was commissioned.
“Arihant’s propulsion compartment was damaged after water entered it,” The Hindu reported Monday. “A naval source said water rushed in as a hatch on the rear side was left open by mistake while it was at harbor.”
Western media outlets were stunned at the “human error” attributed to the ordeal.
“As the star of the Indian Navy, Arihant should have attracted the best submariners India had to offer, which makes this accident all the more baffling,” Popular Mechanics reported Monday.
“It’s hard to articulate how major a f—- up this is,” the defense website Task and Purpose said Tuesday morning.
INS Arihant, India’s first ballistic-missile submarine, is a modified version of Russia’s Russian Akula-1 class nuclear attack submarine.
“Indian authorities likely felt that pipes exposed to corrosive seawater couldn’t be trusted again, particularly pipes that carry pressurized water coolant to and from the ship’s 83 megawatt nuclear reactor,” Popular Mechanics reported. “Failing pipes could not only endanger the ship’s crew but the entire submarine … and her nuclear weapons.”
“A second missile submarine, INS Arighant, was launched in December, and at least three submarines are planned,” the website added.