What Happened to the Indian Sub that Took In Damaging Water from an Open Hatch? – Note to any country’s navy: do not leave a hatch open on a submarine.
Apparently, the Indian navy did not get this memo and left a hatch open in 2017 that resulted in water damage that sidelined a major Indian submarine for ten months.
However, there is a dispute that this really occurred despite all the mocking headlines making fun of the Indian navy in 2018 and beyond.
The incident supposedly happened to the $2.9 billion INS Arihant in February 2017.
Someone allegedly failed to secure a hatch on the Arihant when it was at port, and seawater rushed in, creating serious damage to the sub’s engine room. The seawater then corroded pipes on the boat that put its nuclear reactor in danger.
Or so we were told to believe.
Is This Really True?
The saga started in an Indian publication called The Hindu written in January of 2018. BlackDot said the incident did not sink or otherwise damage the sub. In 2018, the Arihant even completed a patrol that would call into question that it was taken out of action for so long.
Like BlackDot, the Economic Times of India was also skeptical of The National Interest, Task and Purpose, and Popular Mechanics – all who published articles about the open hatch and the sea water damage to the Arihant.
There May Not Have Been Hatches in That Part of the Sub
The Economic Times wrote, “The submarine has no hatches there. The Arihant is based on Russian double hull design with a sealed nuclear reactor section. Except for the latest French nuclear submarines that have a hatch above the reactor for quicker refueling, no other country with nuclear submarines have such a system. Although the Arihant’s core is not designed to operate for the submarine’s lifetime and will need refueling, it does not have a hatch. To refuel, the hull will have to be cut open and welded back.”
Journalist Questioned the Open Hatch Story
The author of the Economic Times article said on Facebook that “My piece in @EconomicTimes on the Arihant nuclear submarine accident. I question the claim of an open hatch causing flooding and more importantly I question the report about political leadership not being aware of Arihant being out of service & need for nuclear confidence building measures with China @ETDefence.”
BlackDot also said that the Arihant is not a modified-Russian submarine, it is instead indigenously built.
If the damage from the so-called “open hatch” had been true, it could have damaged the submarine’s propulsion system and that would have created a situation where significant repairs would have been necessary.
But India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted on Twitter that the Arihant successfully completed a deterrence patrol in late 2018.
This means, according to Modi, that India has a full-fledged nuclear submarine that can run silent and run deep for long periods and can fire nuclear missiles while submerged.
Sometimes an unbelievable report about such a terrible accident from an obvious mistake is just that – unbelievable.
Give credit to the Indian navy and its defense base and shipyards for producing a nuclear-powered boomer to launch nuclear-tipped missiles.
This is a significant feat for the Indian military, and it appears that nobody left a hatch open on the sub and that the hatch in question did not even exist if the fact checker can be believed.
Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.