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1/12/2018 Someone Left a Hatch Open and Crippled India’s $2.

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Someone Left a Hatch Open and Crippled India’s


$2.9 Billion Submarine
Water damage put the submarine out of action for ten months.

GETTY / PUNIT PARANJPE 

By Kyle Mizokami Jan 9, 2018

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India’s first ballistic missile submarine was out of commission for ten months after someone
neglected to properly close a hatch. The nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant was
flooded with saltwater, necessitating nearly a year’s worth of repairs. The submarine is
designed to function as a floating arsenal of nuclear weapons, guaranteeing a retaliatory
strike in case of surprise attack.

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The incident was first reported by The Hindu. According to an Indian Navy source, a hatch
was left open on the rear left side of the ship, allowing seawater to rush into the propulsion

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1/12/2018 Someone Left a Hatch Open and Crippled India’s $2.9 Billion Submarine

area while the Arihant was in harbor. Arihant was out of action for ten months as water was
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pumped out and pipes were cut out and replaced. Indian authorities likely felt that pipes
exposed to corrosive seawater couldn't be trusted again, particularly pipes that carry
pressurized water coolant to and from the ship’s 83 megawatt nuclear reactor. Failing pipes
could not only endanger the ship’s crew but the entire submarine... and her nuclear weapons.

India’s first ballistic missile submarine is the result of a $2.9 billion submarine technology
program. Construction on Arihant began in 2009, and the ship was commissioned into the
Indian Navy seven years later in October 2016. The modified Russian Akula-1 class nuclear
attack submarine was lengthened to accommodate twelve K-15 short-range nuclear missiles
or four K-4 intermediate range nuclear missiles. K-15 missiles, with their 434-mile range,
primarily target Pakistan, while K-4 missiles, with their 2,174-mile range can reach all of
Pakistan and as far as the capital of India’s other neighborhood rival, Beijing. A second
missile submarine, INS Arighant, was launched in December, and at least three submarines
are planned.

India has a “No First Use” policy with regard to nuclear weapons, promising that it would only
use nuclear weapons in response to a nuclear attack. The nation is only the sixth country in
the world to put ballistic nuclear weapons at sea, a strategy designed to render at least part
of the country’s nuclear arsenal invulnerable to surprise attack. The strategy, known as
Continuous At Sea Deterrence, is employed by several countries including the United States
and requires at least one nuclear-missile armed submarine at sea at all times.

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How in the world could a $2.9 billion submarine be sidelined by a simple mistake? Not
leaving hatches open that could potentially sink a ship, particularly a submarine, is basic
common sense. Why were the propulsion section and nuclear reactor on the 364-foot long
submarine unattended so the flooding went unnoticed as long as it did? As the star of the
Indian Navy, Arihant should have attracted the best submariners India had to offer, which
makes this accident all the more baffling.

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1/12/2018 Someone Left a Hatch Open and Crippled India’s $2.9 Billion Submarine

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