The medium refit of INS Sindhukirti, a Russian-made submarine of the Indian naval fleet, was to have been completed by 2004. However, the work was over only in 2015, with the submarine unavailable for operations for a decade, even as the refit cost shot up by over Rs. 450 crore, an audit by the Comptroller and Auditor-General has found.
The Navy acquired 10 EKM submarines from Russia between 1986 and 2000. The medium refit of six of them was given out to Russia because of the lack of capabilities and spares in India. The first medium refit of an EKM submarine was started in the naval dockyard of Visakhapatnam in July 1999. As the government decided to develop further capability outside the naval dockyard, it decided to award the medium-refit contract to Hindustan Shipyard Ltd. in Visakhapatnam in June 2005.
The CAG found that the medium refit-cum-upgrade of INS Sindhukirti was to have been commenced by 2001 and completed by 2004. However, it was carried out from 2006 after “the submarine witnessed extensive deterioration”.
“Though the development of indigenous repair capability was envisioned in 2000 and the sanction for the first MR of submarine at an indigenous commercial yard was accorded in June 2002, the contract for the refit was concluded only in October 2005,” the audit found.
Against the original schedule of completing the refit by January 2009, the submarine was delivered to the Navy only in June 2015. Sea acceptance trials went on for months from then on, and a few weeks ago, the submarine was back in full service.
The audit, tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, found that the cost of refit increased from the proposed Rs. 629.5 crore to Rs. 990.52 crore by August 2013, with additional liabilities of Rs. 92.17 crore still being claimed as of September 2015. Thus, the Navy ended up paying Rs. 453.19 crore for the refit. It was not just the financial losses, but the adverse impact on the operational capabilities of the Navy, facing a severe shortage of submarines.
The Navy was unable to operate one of its EKM submarines since June 2004, the audit pointed out.