January 13, 2008:
Last week, an Indian
Kilo class submarine, the INS Sindhughosh, that was coming to the surface near
the port of Mumbai (Bombay), collided
with a merchant ship. It was a glancing blow, and received minor damage to the
conning tower. The merchant vessel suffered some minor hull damage. A year ago,
the U.S. nuclear sub USS Newport News suffered a similar accident in the
Straits of Hormuz (the entrance to the Persian Gulf). The Kilo class boats
displace 2,300 tons, while the Newport News is about three times larger.
In both cases, problems with sonar
(used for navigation when near the surface) were believed to be the cause. This
is a growing problem whenever subs operate near populated areas (that tend to
have lots of ship traffic.) There have been a growing number of incidents like
this in the last decade.