Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Indian Submariner Dies In Battery Explosion

One Indian Submariner died and two were injured in an in-port battery explosion aboard INS Sindhurakshak (S63). The Russian-built Kilo-class submarine was in the eastern Indian port of Visakhapatnam when the fire and subsequent explosion happened on Friday night. Officials are blaming a "defective battery" for the death of Leading Electrical Technician Kump Dand.

Sailor, Rest Your Oar.


Blogger Bill Lapham said...

Always sad to lose a submariner, of any nationality. Makes me wonder, though, what is the most dangerous thing in a submarine? Certainly the battery must rank near the top of the list.

2/27/2010 10:32 AM

Anonymous anon e. moose said...

EOG. Not called "The Bomb" because it rocks.

Close second: MS1 as COW.

2/27/2010 11:12 AM

Blogger John Byron said...

USS POMODON 1955. 5 killed.


2/27/2010 11:19 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of our USSVI Cuttlefish Base members, Pat Taladino was on Pomodon and had duty the night Pomodon's Fwd Battery caught fire and blew up during a battery charge. Wardroom and officer/CPO berthing destroyed. Pat received a Navy/Marine Corps Medal for rescue of crewmembers.

Steep learning curve on care and maintenance of four-battery guppy II's batteries in the early days. A number of changes made including addition of electrolyte agitation and cooling water pipe loops in the battery cells.

Keep a zero bubble.......


2/27/2010 4:56 PM

Blogger Lou said...

USS BONEFISH 1988, 3 shipmates killed.

2/27/2010 8:00 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

BONEFISH: battery fire, not explosion. Submerged and operating at the time.

Cause was saltwater leak into battery well from waterway above. CO had been fired just before, after 22 months in the job (two remaining). After fighting fire on the surface, new CO ordered the crew topside and then made gutsiest call one can imagine: Abandon Ship. CVBG in the area rescued all hands surviving fire and toxic gases (chlorine and a lot more). Off Jacksonville.

I had opportunity to discuss the accident with both CO immediately after (he was in Charleston hospital) and off-the-record with the investigation officer months later. Classic case of CO (the previous one) hiding in stateroom and not running his ship. Weak XO. COB and Goat Locker: dunno. The sea stalks the unwary.

2/28/2010 4:45 AM

Blogger 630-738 said...

Submarine Batteries have been so reliable over the years, most forget the sheer amount of energy contained within. I remember a large 3/4" combination wrench vaporizing in a EM's hands during intercell torque checks. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but we were instantly reminded of the energy in those cells right underneath us.

I would agree the EOG is likely more dangerous though. Those things just made me nervous.

2/28/2010 9:42 AM

Blogger 630-738 said...

Rest in peace shipmate. Any submariner death is one too many in peacetime.

2/28/2010 9:43 AM

Anonymous Mark said...

Had an Electrician get flash burns from intercell torquing. He had the torque wrench in one hand and a wrench in the other. He was told to tape the wrench, he did, kind of. He taped the center of the wrench where his hand went and left both ends exposed. We thought someone took a flash picture. TSSBP. Him for his pains and us for failure to properly supervise him.
Along that note I'd say the battery had more power to destroy as several boats have discovered. But I am far more scared of the EOG; O2, H2, and MMFN's in close proximity. I have lots of faith in the older A-gangers, but too many young ones never grow up.

Math teacher in Upstate NY

2/28/2010 10:02 AM

Blogger SJV said...


Do you have (or used to have) a tat of the road runner on your forearm?

2/28/2010 4:37 PM

Blogger Lou said...

Intercell torque checks never bothered me. The evolution was always well briefed and the tools were always double checked by the chief before the tools entered the well. Switchgear testing, IMHO was always more dangerous.

3/01/2010 7:38 AM

Blogger 630-738 said...

Switchgear testing has become safer over the years, since boats now use cannon plugs vice modified fuse clips. If you follow the procedure, remember to secure power first, disconnect it from the CPTP and then the switchboard, and connect it in reverse, you are safe.

My first boat killed a guy during switchgear testing before I got there. There were still folks onboard who remembered it, though. You DID NOT want to be cavalier about that PM with those guys around!

3/01/2010 9:57 AM

Anonymous Mark said...

25 yrs in the navy with no tats on me. Always hated needles and pain. I'd give the crew much enjoyment at flue shot time, a 260 lb gorilla bouncing around like a school girl, 'cause I was scared to death of the needle.

There were a lot fewer pre-evolutionary briefs in the 80's, so we did some stupid stuff. Late 90's and early 2000's we briefed everything. If you made a mistake (after a brief) you deserved to be punished. Switchgear testing is a lot safer now. I think the fact that they reduced how much is done at a time (along with the new plugs) made a huge difference. It went so long and sailors were so tired, that people made mistakes or took shortcuts. Several guys died from stupid mistakes. I have not heard of people being injured recently from any electrical evolutions. I don't get FLASHES where I teach though, so I may be grossly out of date.
I'd think line handling and anything topside during rough weather is the most dangerous thing on a boat. Anything aft with the supervision and briefs that nukes are famous for are safe. Lots of A gang stuff, EOG, HP Air, and hydraulics are more dangerous IMO, because you are normally dealing with a more junior, less experienced sailor, that is less supervised and not as likely to be briefed, working on a high energy systems. Lots of the Nuke stuff is politically dangerous, but the A gang stuff will kill or maim you on the spot.
I hate to hear of anyone dieing on a boat. I dislike the whitewash of a "defective battery" being the cause. We learned a lot lessons and changed a lot of procedures to make our batteries safe. I don't see a defective battery blowing up without the help of poor procedures or lack of procedural compliance.
Hope they learn from their mistakes as we did.
Math teacher in Upstate NY (EMCS/SS Retired)

3/01/2010 2:00 PM

Blogger John Byron said...

"I hate to hear of anyone dieing on a boat. I dislike the whitewash of a "defective battery" being the cause. We learned a lot lessons and changed a lot of procedures to make our batteries safe. I don't see a defective battery blowing up without the help of poor procedures or lack of procedural compliance."

Add to your list equipment errors. In the case of POMODON, an overhauled battery exhaust fan had been reinstalled wired backwards, causing a closed-loop ventilation path for the well. As result, during an in-port battery charge the battery ventilation was recirculating rather than being exhausted to the engines. Battery ventilation was at that time measured in this loop rather than external to the well, but the hydrogen detector was in the ship's ventilation line, external to the well. When the boat hit the finishing rate, the readings were 'correct' - good ventilation flow (though only recirculating the well) and low H2 (external to the well and isolated from it). But H2 was sure enough building up to explosive levels in the forward battery well and - sure enough - it exploded.

Photos from the blast show the decking, all the joinery, and all the gear in the forward battery compartment plastered in a concave shape against the pressure-hull overhead. Four submariners were killed outright in the compartment and a fifth, just stepping through the WT door from the torpedo room, was popped like a cork the full length of the room and crushed against the jeep between the tubes.

The effects of the explosion somehow caused a permanent port list that was finally fixed by removing #2 engine and giving the enginemen the best set of storage lockers in the fleet where #2 had been. I spent a day in the boat at Eureka CA in 1959 and got the whole story from the guys who lived through it - was stationed at a nearby SOSUS station at the time. That day and the crew's hospitality convinced me to stay in and reenlist for submarines.

3/01/2010 3:52 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

sad indeed. Met a newsparer salesman on the appraoch to the 59th street Bridge in Queens NYC. And he told me in Broken English he used to command a Sub in India. Must say he was quite a pro selling the Daily news. They are no doubt a crack outfitt or something of that nature....

3/01/2010 4:49 PM

Anonymous Mark said...

I know the story of the Pomodon well, was qualified BCE for 23 years of my 25 yr career. Many of our procedures were based on lessons learned from it. The wiring was a big screw up. I do know that the current procedures, design, and sensitivity to the process should keep us safe from a similar mishap. Lesson learned from the blood of our shipmates. Hard lesson learned, but hopefully one we will always remember. The BCEF issue has always worried me since the loss of IC div. I pray the BCEF's in there now don't ever forget the lessons that gave them their job.

Math Teacher in Upstate NY (EMCS/SS Retired)

3/01/2010 5:35 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

For sheer energy, the battery (thank God I was RC-Div). For holy-crap-this-has-so-many-traps-it'll-screw-with-you-forever, the bomb or anything dealing with the O2 system. For those unfamiliar with Subase Pearl, Google the story of how Smallwood Hall (aka the first "High-Rise") got it's name. Kid was an A-ganger on the SARGO when there was an explosion during an oxygen charge.

3/02/2010 6:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always thought the scariest thing on the boat was the steam system. Yeah, the battery has a ton of power, but it's predictable, and you're safe if you follow procedure. About the only times E-Div ever really paid attention to procedure were battery maintenance and charges.
The thought of all that steam energy, and the number of piping connections that could fail and pretty much instantly pressure-cook the whole ER, always gave me the willies.

3/03/2010 8:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There still seemed to be a guy knocked on his ass at least once a year in the naughts performing switchgear testing, mostly during major shipyard availabilities. (Thankfully, don't think anyone was killed tho)

3/04/2010 3:03 AM

Blogger Bill Lapham said...

If I knew what switchgear testing was all about, I forgot eons ago. What the reader's digest, nose cone explanation again?

3/04/2010 4:54 PM

Anonymous Mark said...

Switchgear testing is pretty basic. It is usually done in conjunction with cleaning them. Bottom line is that you turn off the switch board as much as possible. Sometimes its not turned off good enough and the unwary get burned. Also you got to get near live stuff, cause you cannot always turn everything off. Once again the inattentive get burned.
Then you get into the actual procedure. You test the main breakers to ensure they work and trip as designed. Problem is the switchboards are de-energized so you have to rig power from the energized side. The EM's hook up a cable to a live switchboard and route it through a small control box then back to control circuits to make sure everything works right. That should be generic enough to keep the CRD guys pleased.
Many possible problems here. Equipment issues combined with not following the procedures can get people shocked, shifting to cannon plugs helped a lot. As with most things a single fault normally won't kill you. The procedure is long when combined with switchgear testing and for some reason the command does not like keeping switchboards de-energized for long periods of time. This often results in a turn over during the procedure, tired guys, people being in a hurry and many people related issues. This is what normally gets people shocked.
A good plan before going in, good brief, correct supervision, and strict adherence to procedures will keep folks safe. Lots has changed since my first switchgear testing in the early 80's. I personally think procedure and design changes from NR; better ORM and supervision; and the higher sensitivity to switchboard issues have made it safer, but an earlier poster has eluded to my hypothesis being wrong.
Math teacher in Upstate NY (EMCS/SS Retired)

3/04/2010 10:44 PM

Blogger Bill Lapham said...

Thank you Senior Chief. What you describe sounds like the testing a couple of EM's were involved in on ustafish in mid-80's. One blew a hole in his cheek and tongue, and his tender got hit trying to rescue him from the board after his poorly rigged tending line broke. They both survived, but they were shaken up pretty badly as I recall. More emphasis on briefings, procedures, supervisiion and safety gear ensued on that boat at least.

3/05/2010 3:32 AM


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