Three sailors serving in the Indian Navy’s Indian Naval Ship (INS) Ranvir perished on January 18 when a fire caused by an explosion in the air conditioning compartment broke out in the aging October 1986 commissioned, guided-missile destroyer. The incident occurred between 4.30 p.m. and 5 p.m. while the vessel was berthed at the naval dockyard in Mumbai. Eleven other sailors were also injured in the mishap and are undergoing treatment at the Indian Naval Hospital Ship (INHS) Ashwini.
INS Ranvir, attached to the Eastern Naval Command, was “on cross coast operational deployment from the Eastern Naval Command” since November 2021 and was due to return to its base port of Visakhapatnam.
A board of inquiry has been instituted by the Indian Navy to go into the cause of the incident. The Navy said in a statement: “In an unfortunate incident today at Naval Dockyard Mumbai, three naval personnel succumbed to injuries caused by an explosion in an internal compartment on board INS Ranvir.” The statement added that the ship’s crew responded immediately to the fire and brought the situation under control. A spokesperson for the Indian Navy said that “no major material damage has been reported”.
Over the past decade, there have been several mishaps aboard Indian naval vessels. The most serious of them was when the INS Sindhurakshak, docked at the naval dockyard in Mumbai, sank after a massive explosion in August 2013, killing 18 sailors. A year later, two officers were killed in a fire on board INS Sindhuratna.
In March 2019, a fire onboard the INS Sindhukesari, a Kilo-class submarine which had then just returned to India after undergoing a Rs.1,197-crore refit and upgrade in Russia, caused major damage to several of the warships’ critical components. In June 2019, a worker was killed in a fire aboard the then under-construction Visakhapatnam destroyer at the Mazagon dockyard. Last October, four sailors suffered burn injuries in an incident of fire and flooding aboard the INS Ranvijay while the vessel was berthed at the Visakhapatnam Naval Harbour.