T he Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has criticized the implementation of the Indian Navy’s plan for enabling its submarines with facilities to couple with Deep Submergence Rescue Vessels (DSRV) and Submarine Rescue Chamber (SRC) of the United States Navy (USN), which has resulted in an expenditure of USD 744,343.
The CAG said in its report that not only were many of the 16 Indian submarines at the end of three-fourths of their life, but that only seven of them were actually operational, with nine undergoing repairs and refit. Two of the submarines, INS (Indian Naval Ship) Vela and INS Vagli, both Foxtrot-class, are due to be decommissioned this year and next year.
The report reads, “75 per cent submarines in the IN fleet have already completed three fourths of their estimated operational life. In fact the IN envisaged the project without clearly identifying deadlines for completing the project. It is pertinent to mention that only 7 out of 16 submarines in IN are operational and 9 submarines are under refit/repair as of October 2009. As of November 2009, Padeyes fitment has been completed in 11 out of 16 submarines out of which only 4 SSK (Diesel Electric Attack) submarines have been certified by USN for mating with US DSRV for a period of three years effective from 20 December 2007 and of whichat least 2 are presently under refit. Two of the serving Foxtrot submarines, on which Padeyes were fitted, INS Vela and INS Vagli, would be de-commissioned in 2010 and 2011 respectively”
The CAG report has also pointed out that any actual submarine rescue would depend on the presence of a USN DSRV, which would take at least 72 hours to get to station from its nearest base, and for the services of which, an agreement was not even in place. “The DSRV is to perform rescue operations on submerged or disabled submarines. It will remain stationed with the US Navy and in the event of an accident will be transported to the nearest seaport or airport, then to a mother ship to reach the rescue site. The nominal response time is 72 hours from the time the DSRV is lifted from its location to reach the rescue site and with the capability of rescuing up to a depth of 610 meters. Such time and depth restrictions further dilutes the effectiveness of a rescue facility which in any case is nowhere close to completion,” says the report.
The Ministry of Defense attributed the delays to ‘imposition of sanctions, amendment of LOA (Letter of Offer and Acceptance) in view of change in the scope of work, interpretation of contract differently by USN and other aspects concerning technology and operational incompatibility issues between IN and USN’.
The project is yet to be fully operationalized in spite of having been envisaged in 1997. “While the initial work of fitting of Padeyes and certification of IN submarines for mating with USN, DSRV was no where close to completion, a separate agreement with USN to enable DSRV to undertake rescue operations and further recertification of submarines is yet to be concluded,” says the report.