The Navy has started general court martial against three of its senior officials after they were found guilty of dereliction of duties by a high-level inquiry panel probing a rare accident involving frontline warship INS Betwa in 2016. Official sources said the court martial proceedings against two commanders and the captain of the ship began in Mumbai on 26 July based on findings of the board of inquiry which carried out a detailed investigation into the accident around two-and-half years ago.
Two sailors were killed when the Brahmaputra-class guided missile frigate capsized in a dry dock in Mumbai on 5 December, 2016, in a first of its kind accident in the Indian Navy’s history. The 3,850-tonne guided missile frigate tipped over and crashed to its side during undocking, triggering severe criticism against the navy.
The sources said the board of inquiry in its reports mentioned “major mistakes” and “negligence” on the part of several personnel.
However, the captain and two commanders contested the “blame” attributed to them by the probe panel and opted for initiation of general court martial, they said. As the three officials refused to accept findings of the high-level probe, general court martial proceedings were started against them during which they will get full opportunity to defend themselves, the sources said.
Named after the river Betwa, the 126-metre-long vessel was commissioned into the Navy in 2004. It is one of the key warships of the Western Naval Command and it is armed with Uran anti-ship missiles, Barak 1 surface-to-air missiles and torpedoes.
The Navy has almost completed repairing the ship and it is expected to return to operational duties in the next couple of months.