ACCIDENT DURING YARD TRIALS
Photo Indian Navy
Story From THE HINDU
Story From THE HINDU
Navy hit by another accident; officer dead
"Nine days after a submarine accident triggered the resignation of Navy Chief Admiral D.K. Joshi, a naval officer was killed in a gas leak on board INS Kolkata, officially known as Yard 701, while undergoing delivery trials at the Mazagon Dock.
A senior police official told presspersons that a fire-fighting test was under way in the carbon dioxide unit on board the guided-missile destroyer when the gas leak occurred around 12.45 p.m. Both Navy and dockyard personnel were present during the trial.
Additional Commissioner of Police Krishna Prakash identified the deceased officer as Commander Kundal Wadhwa. " Click here for the full story THE HINDU ,but we ask our Indian Readers to read our message to the Indian People first.
TO THE PEOPLE OF INDIA:
In the past ten days you have lost some naval heroes and our condolences go out to the families of the deceased, most recently those of Commander Kundal Wadhwa, Engineering Officer (Desig) of the INS Kolkata which is still undergoing builder's trials. It is hard for a navy under civilian control to always articulate to the tax payers and voters exactly what it is doing in terms of service wide changes. In looking at Indian media coverage of the most recent naval personnel losses and the related resignation of Admiral D. K Joshi we realize that even trained journalists often miss the big picture when it is un-articulated.
The HINDU article linked above has a list of the seemingly unusual number of fatal naval accidents that occurred this year. Misconceptions arise and ill feelings develop when these accidents are considered as simply a string of industrial maritime accidents. There is a tendency to view the deceased sailors as accident victims. The search for someone to blame seems appropriate to politicians. For example, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesman Prakash Javadekar, has, demanded the resignation of Defence Minister A.K. Antony for the latest incident. Admiral D.K. Joshi resigned earlier, before this latest incident, taking personal responsibility for the loss of some submariners recently. We have posted an opinion previously that we felt Admiral Joshi had no personal culpability relative to causation of the submarine losses and that his resignation was a valiant attempt to preserve the nation from a very damaging blame game. We want to tell the Indian people what we see as outside, but professional, naval observers.
We observe that your navy with all hands deeply involved but most especially the engineering officers and ratings is "pushing the envelope" in a technological race against time. In just a few years your navy has moved from an inconsequential force to the rank of the fourth navy on earth by size, but we believe the second navy on earth in terms of their inventory of naval competencies. The Indian navy has mastered aircraft carrier operations, under way replenishment, nuclear power plant operations , and submerged submarine guided missile launches. Previously these were the skill sets that only the American and former Soviet navies were the complete masters of. But here the Indian navy distinguishes its self from all others in that India's sailors did it all with non standard and often used vessels and equipment and a budget that was never intended to create a world class navy so fast. They did it with skill mastery, diligence, a sense of urgency, patriotism, innovation and they have stunned the naval world. What naval professionals call the "operational tempo" is and was high. And now the navy is trying to advance to the next phase; they are attempting to upgrade the fleet with purpose built standard equipment built in India.
All hands understand what is going on and why. All hands know that there are risks in pushing the envelope so hard. Officers like Commander Kundal Wadhwa should not be regarded as simple industrial accident victims. His death like all of the recent deaths are more akin to test pilots lost who push the envelope to move aviation technology ahead in the national interest. The recent naval deceased are naval heroes who died doing their duties at their stations pushing the envelope of naval technology and fleet evolution and improvement along the needed path. The problem of public perception in a fleet wide attempt to forge ahead on a technology scale is that all hands, not just a few test pilots, are at risk and when losses occur, and they will, the results look like preventable industrial accidents.
Here is what your navy is dealing with. The Navy is still operating too many old , obsolete vessels and equipment obtained from too large a variety of foreign sources at the moment in history when the navy is transitioning to Indian built standardized vessels and equipment. Budgets are tight and the old equipment requires extraordinary maintenance. Maintenance of equipment slated for near future scrapping or disposal must of budgetary necessity be limited. So the accidents with old equipment have been on the increase. But this is the first generation of Indian built new equipment, production lines quite normally will have occasional problems. Things like engine room firefighting systems have to be tested. A test implies that the system isn't proven. Commander Wadhwa was conducting a needed test to bring his brand new ship closer to commissioning and the start of real service. He knew there were risks but was determined to conduct the test because it was time, and he knew why keeping everything on schedule was important. He took a calculated risk and lost his life. He was no unwitting industrial accident victim, he was a naval hero taking a risk to to deliver a needed weapon system on time. He and most of the recently lost Indian sailors deserve to be considered by Indian history as heroes of a naval arms race, naval heroes not accident victims.
Our AAB analyst refer to this naval arms race as the "Race for Deterrence". India is located between a collection of dangerous Islamic terrorist centers and nations and shares a land border with the voracious Dragon that is China. The Dragon has already built the world's largest navy in terms of sheer numbers of vessels but has not mastered the inventory of skills of the Indian Navy which we like to refer to as the "Tigers". Iran has engaged in a naval build up and threatens freedom of navigation in parts of the Indian Ocean. China , even before it has mastered the operation of its gigantic naval force has already attempted to take island and ocean territories of its neighbors out to what it calls the "first island chain", They have announced their avowed intention of pushing the United States Pacific fleet back to Pearl Harbor, and their planned "string of pearls" is a garrote designed expressly for India's throat. The relative poverty and naval inexperience of the Islamist terrorist, and the pace at which China is mastering blue water naval skills has given the Indian navy a small window of opportunity to upgrade to a level that may deter attack. The navy has been using this pause to retire old non standard equipment and replace the fleet with first rate Indian built equipment. When the incomparable Indian naval skills mastery is finally coupled with a sizable fleet of purpose built standardized naval vessels we think the Dragon will be looking at the most formidable navy in the world this side of the ten carrier task force U.S. Navy.
If the Indian navy succeeds in its race for deterrence it may defeat the seaborne threats to the nation without the dire necessity and risks of actually having to fight a large navy with national survival at stake. Every naval professional knows that naval deterrence is the most desirable state of naval readiness. When an entire navy willingly engages in such a race with the will and determination that the entire Indian navy displays in this one, everyone assumes the risks inherent in rapid operational tempo in an atmosphere of limited budgets. The Indian navy has never been able to throw money at its challenges , so they have thrown themselves into them and so far are ahead of the curve by grace of skill, unparalleled work ethic, and physical courage.
Admiral Joshi knew this. He sacrificed his career in the hopes that an unproductive blame game could be avoided. He signaled a temporary break in the crushing operational tempo so that specific problems in specific programs could be examined without permanently slowing the drive. He knows, and every officer and petty officer in the Indian Navy knows that this is the moment. Their's is a navy caught between a fleet still containing some rusting old equipment and a brand new fleet sure to have some bugs in it, but they have only a moment in history to pull off the transformation of the fleet .
If these Indian navy crews can get themselves aboard a fleet of perfected new vessels before China finally becomes journeymen blue water sailors, the Indian navy skill levels and spirit assure victory against the Dragon or any one else who challenges it. Every sailor knows this and accepts the risks of enhanced operational tempo. Every sailor lost in this race deserves to have his memory treated like that of a lost test pilot, not the hapless victim of an industrial accident. The civilian police don't belong in these cases, these are naval matters. The Indian Media needs to explain the big picture to the Indian people as well as whatever details of any one particular accident may become known. But it is vital to the nation that the Indian people and government rally behind India's incredible sailors. They face nearly impossible odds and literally a killing operational tempo. But as outside professional observers we are confident that the only force that will stop these sailors from accomplishing their mission is a lack of support by the Indian people and government and we fear that both the government and people somehow have not grasped the big picture.
India bless, pray for, respect and honor your sailors you may not realize it but they may be the most respected representatives of India in the world and the world outside of the thug states is hoping for another resounding success for them. India, though non aligned is trusted to uphold international law, it is a democracy with laws and customs that the West understands and trusts. India has fielded a Navy that not only reflects but magnifies the virtues of the nation. They may become as skilled and well armed as time, superhuman effort, and available funding allows. Indeed they may move to be the number 2 navy on the planet. But the rise of this ethical and professional force encourages confidence in the world outside of the thug states, not fear. The Indian Ocean needs a guardian, the world prefers the Indian Navy.
If you don't have the big picture, the race for deterrence at this time in Indian naval history looks to the casual observer as a time of senseless accidents. We however believe that 100 years from now naval history may count this the Indian Navy's finest hour, Admiral Joshi one of its finest officers, and the casualties of the era like Commander Wadhwa as the ultimate heroes who either prevented wars through deterrence, or if India's potential enemies prove crazy enough to attack; the stage is being set today for their defeat. No one died in vain, each pushed the larger mission forward. The Indian Navy of 2034 will be standing on the shoulders of giants, India's own "greatest generation". God bless the Indian Navy and the nation that sends it forth. May the whole of the Indian nation become naval enthusiasts, your navy rightly should be the pride of your nation.