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Indian Navy Chief resigns after spate of mishaps


NEW DELHI (PTI): A spate of accidents involving Indian naval warships claimed the job of Navy Chief Admiral D K Joshi who quit on Wednesday, taking moral responsibility and his resignation was promptly accepted by Defence Minister A K Antony.

The resignation of 59-year-old Joshi, who had about 15 months more left in service, came hours after submarine INS Sindhuratna had a mishap off the Mumbai coast in which seven sailors were taken seriously ill and two officers were missing.

Smoke engulfed the Russian-made Kilo-class submarine and the seven affected sailors had to be airlifted to a hospital in Mumbai.

A specialist in anti-submarine warfare, Admiral Joshi had taken over as the Navy Chief on August 31, 2012.

Vice Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral R K Dhowan was named as the Acting Chief till regular Chief is appointed.

"Taking moral responsibility for the accidents and incidents which have taken place during the past few months, the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral D K Joshi today resigned from the post of Navy Chief," the Defence Ministry said.

"The Government has accepted the resignation of Admiral Joshi with immediate effect," it said.

After the Navy was hit Wednesday morning by the 10th mishap involving its warships in the last seven months, the concerned Defence Ministry sought a detailed report from the force.

In his resignation letter, Joshi said though the government continued to repose faith in his capabilities, it was becoming untenable for him to continue as the head of the maritime force in terms of accountability.

This would be the first time in the last 15 years that a Naval chief has had to leave office in controversial circumstances after Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat was sacked by the NDA Government in 1998 when George Fernandes was the Defence Minister.

Joshi served in a variety of Command, Staff and Instructional appointments during his 41-year career including the captainship of guided missile corvette INS Kuthar, guided missile destroyer INS Ranvir and the aircraft carrier INS Viraat.

In senior ranks, Joshi served as Assistant Chief of Personnel (Human Resource Development), in Warship Production and Acquisition as the Assistant Controller of the Aircraft Carrier Programme (ACCP), and thereafter in the Operations Branch both as Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Information Warfare and Operations) and as the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff.

Wednesday's mishap was the 10th involving an Indian Navy warship and the third involving a submarine in the last seven months since the sinking of INS Sindhurakshak in August 2013 in which all 18 personnel on board were killed.

INS Sindhuratna was at sea off Mumbai for routine training and workup (inspection) in the early hours of Wednesday, when smoke was reported in the sailors' accommodation, in compartment number three, by the submarine, the Navy said in a press release.

Western Command's Commodore Commanding Submarine (COMCOS) Commodore S R Kapoor was on board the vessel carrying out an inspection before it was to be cleared for operational duties, Navy officials said.

"We immediately activated our emergency firefighting exercise and seven personnel who had inhaled smoke were airlifted to a hospital. Two officials are unaccounted for.

They might have been left in the cabin or at some other place as various cabins and compartments are isolated as part of the emergency measures," the officers said.

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