New Delhi: Voicing "grave concern" over the recent sinking of a torpedo recovery vessel off Visakhapatnam coast, Navy Chief Admiral RK Dhowan on Monday rued that the force cannot induct new platforms as quickly as it wants to.
He also said that the chances of recovering the four Navy personnel, missing after the November six accident, appears a "little grim" but said the search will go on at least till November 13. One sailor was killed in the mishap.
"We must understand this is an aspect related to force levels. The life of a ship is about 25-30 years depending on what type of ship this is and therefore in the Navy, at any point of time, you will have 50 per cent of the Navy which is more than 20 years old," Dhowan told reporters outside the South Block.
The Navy Chief, who took over this year after his predecessor resigned following a spate of accidents, was asked if the force was facing a maintenance issues or was there a need for an upgrade.
Maintaining that the Navy takes great pride in maintaining old platforms, he said, "And of course since we cannot induct in platforms so quickly, we would like to optimally utilise every platform and see how life can be extended. This is where refits come in".
The vessel had undergone 27 refits since its induction in 1983, including major one last year and a short refit earlier this year.
"We would like to induct new platforms but at times delays takes place and to overcome those delays we have to extend the service life. That is the situation as far as TRV 72 (that sunk on November 6) is concerned," he said.
The Navy Chief said that since the vessel had undergone a major refit last year and short refit this year, "We will now have to see and go into details as to why kind of material failure took place which resulted in the uncontrollable sinking of this vessel".
He said the search operation is still continuing though the chances "appear a little grim".
"But certainly, as per the procedure, the ships, aircraft and helicopter of the Navy will continue the search for seven days which is up to November 13 and we will continue to make all efforts to see whatever can be done to locate the crew of the TRV," he said.
Dhowan termed the sinking of the vessel as "an unfortunate incident" which is being taken with "grave seriousness" and with all "due grave concern".