Vishakhapatanam: Three and a half months after INS Sindhurakshak was gutted in a blaze at Mumbai, the Indian Navy’s minesweeper INS Konkan caught fire and suffered major damage at the Naval Dockyard here on Wednesday.
There were no fatalities; about 20 personnel were choked by the smoke and taken to the hospital.
The mishap took place at the dockyard when Naval personnel elsewhere were celebrating Navy Day, with an operational display at the Ramakrishna Beach.
The Eastern Naval Command refused to specify the extent of damage, but sources at the dockyard said that the ship had suffered more than 70 per cent damage, including to its engine.
Fire broke due to untrained labour
Vishakhapatanam: City police commissioner B Shivadhar Reddy told this newspaper, “Preliminary reports said an electric short circuit led to the fire. Though there is no loss of life, due to thick smoke around 20 persons who were there at the mishap site suffered suffocation. They were immediately rushed to the hospital.”
It was reliably learnt that fire broke while workers are engaged in welding work. Only the personnel working on the INS Konkan were in the dockyard, the rest of workers had been given a holiday.
At least 15 fire tenders belonging to Ship Building Centre, Hindustan Ship yard Ltd, other neighbouring industries like HPCL and from the city were rushed to the spot to control the fire, along with the Navy’s own fire fighters.
The INS Konkan is a Pondicherry class minesweeper built for the Indian Navy by the Soviet Union. the 891tonne ship was inducted into the Navy on October 8, 1988.
The vessel was undergoing a mid life refit to extend its operational life. It is learnt that the sonar suites and combat systems were to be replaced, which will give the upgraded vessel leading edge capabilities.
Fingers were being pointed at the inexperienced outsourced manpower working at the Naval Dockyard for the fire mishap. “We have been always against the outsourcing and warned not to engage the contract labour in the defence sector when the work is perennial in nature,” said Bharat Mazdoor Sangh leader K. Bhavani Shankarudu.
Location: Andhra Pradesh