In a major accident the day after Navy Day celebrations, two sailors died when the guided missile frigate, INS Betwa, tipped over and hit the ground while being undocked at the Mumbai dockyard at around 1.50 pm Monday.
According to a Navy spokesperson, the likely cause of the accident was a failure of the block mechanism that is used to dock and undock ships.
The spokesperson said 14 other sailors suffered minor injuries and were being treated at INHS Asvini. The bodies of the two dead, who were earlier reported missing, were found by Navy divers late in the evening.
The accident, first of its kind in in India, left the INS Betwa tilted perpendicular and lying on its side on the ground. Sources said the main mast, which houses the long-range surveillance radars, was broken and that the boilers and other equipment inside the ship may have been damaged.
The Navy has ordered an inquiry to fix responsibility and ascertain the extent of damage.
Sources described the accident as “unfortunate” and “a blemish” on the Navy’s record. They said that Indian naval dockyards had recently undertaken a similar exercise with a much heavier aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya.
INS Betwa is one of the three Brahmaputra-class 3,800-tonne guided missile frigates in service with the Navy, and was commissioned in 2004. It had gone for a medium-refit to the Naval dockyard in Mumbai in October and was to set out to sea later.