Ahead of joint India-French Navy Exercise Varuna, starting May 1, fire broke out on INS Vikramaditya in which one naval officer died of suffocation when he was trying to douse fire that broke out in the engine room.
India’s only aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya which is participating in the forthcoming exercise was entering the harbour in Karnataka’s Karwar when the accident happened. It has been declared fit now.
According to an official statement released by the Indian Navy, Lt Cdr DS Chauhan had bravely led the fire-fighting efforts in the affected compartment. “Whilst the fire was brought under control, the officer suffered loss of consciousness owing to the smoke and fumes during the fire fighting efforts. He was immediately evacuated to the Naval Hospital at Karwar, INHS Patanjali for medical attention. However, the officer could not be revived.”
Adding that the fire was brought under control by the ship’s crew in a swift action “preventing any serious damage affecting the ship’s combat capability”.
In fact, this is the second accident onboard the aircraft carrier in which a fatality occurred. It may be recalled that in 2016, one Indian Navy sailor and a civilian were killed and a couple of others were seriously injured when there was a toxic gas leakage.
According to the Indian Navy, a board of Inquiry has been ordered which will investigate today’s fire. Chauhan who belongs to Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh was an executive officer and was trained in chemical-nuclear-biological disaster prevention.
While the Indian Navy statement has not specified where exactly the fire broke, sources said it broke out in the engine room, which was small and was brought under control immediately and the officer suffocated to death due to smoke. And the aircraft carrier continues to be “fully operational”.
One of the biggest and heaviest ships is 284 metres long and 60 metres high, height comparable to a 20 feet building and weighs 40,000 tonnes. It was bought from Russia for $2.3 billion and was returning after a long deployment. The carrier was commissioned into the Indian Navy in November 2013 at the Sevmash shipyard in north Russia’s Severodvinsk.