India $2.9 Billion Nuclear Ballistic Missile Submarine Flooded and Almost Sank After Someone Left the Hatch Open

India’s first nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine has been grounded for almost a year after it flooded with seawater and almost sank last February.

The $2.9 Billion INS Arihant has been undergoing repairs for the past ten months after a “human error” caused major water damages to the submarine’s propulsion chamber, according to The Hindu on Monday.

A source in the Navy told the newspaper that the nuclear submarine was docked at the harbour when somebody accidentally left the hatch open and water flooded into the rear side of the vessel.

India_Nuclear_Submarine Indian Navy personnel stand on an Indian Navy submarine during the International Fleet Review in Visakhapatnam on February 6, 2016. India kicked off a major display of maritime might, with ships from 50 navies converging on the country's east coast, as New Delhi seeks to boost its leadership in the region. On Monday, The Hindu reported that India's $2.9 billion nuclear ballistic missile submarine INS Arihant has been grounded for the past 10 months after it flooded from someone accidentally leaving the rear hatch open. Getty

The source also confirmed that the submarine remains docked while it receives extensive repairs, including water being pumped out of the vessel and pipes being replaced. The pressurized water coolant pipes have been corroded by the salt water flooding, The Hindu reported. 

According to The Hindu, the Arihant’s absence first drew attention after failed to make an appearance at the Doklam border standoff in the summer of 2017, which involved hundreds of Chinese and Indian military personnel.

INS Arihant is India’s first operational nuclear ballistic missile submarine. The 6,000 tonne vessel was built in the port city of Visakhapatnam, under the Navy’s secretive Advanced Technology Vessel project (ATV).

The vessel was first commissioned in October 2016, and is currently the only operating vessel in India that is able to carry nuclear missiles.The INS Arighant, India's second Arihant-class submarine, was launched in November but is currently at trial stage, The Diplomat reported.

The Arihant has four launch tubes that can carry 12 K-15 short-range missiles or K-4 intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

Aside from the sheer embarrassment over the incident, the Indian Armed Forces are also concerned that the Arihant’s absence will leave the country’s defense vulnerable to its neighbouring Pakistan and other nuclear powers, reported The Hindu.

The Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to requests for comment.