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Weighing A Deadly Anchor

Weighing A Deadly Anchor
If a sudden surge in the number of MiG and Jaguar crashes recently has made one wonder whether a jinx had come over the Indian air force, one hasn’t been quite off the mark. But what is not so well known, due to lack of proper attention in the press, is that portents have been ill for the Indian navy as well. First, the navy’s five-storey-high, floating dry dock off the Andaman islands sank into the Bay of Bengal after a routine ship repair. Then a major fire ripped through the design floor and a production line at the Garden Reach Shipbuilders (GRS) in Calcutta, causing immense damage that could have long-term strategic implications.

Built by the Japanese in 1983, the floating dry dock FDN-1 in Port Blair was being used extensively for the anchorage and repair of combat ships. According to officials, it is the pumps that draw out water after a ship sails out post repairs that failed. The dock, which was flooded, sank to the bottom of the sea. Officials say re-floating it can be expensive, that is, if the technology to make the feat possible is available in the first place. No one knows whether the dock can be salvaged or not. This has naturally crippled much of naval activity and movement in the Andamans region.

The fire at the GRS was also mysterious in that some crucial design documents were lost in the blaze. The official explanation was that a short circuit caused the fire. Call it coincidence, but it happened when the grs had some major orders to execute. So, sabotage is not being ruled out. New Delhi has so far maintained a studied silence on the matter.

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