No probe ordered into steel quality of Navy tanker: Defence ministry

New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) The defence ministry on Friday denied ordering any probe in the alleged use of inferior material in construction of Indian Navy’s tanker INS Deepak.

“No inquiry has been opened into any Navy tankers with so-called sub-standard steel,” an official said in wake of reports that fleet tankers, bought from Italian firm Fincantieri, were made of inferior grade steel.

A Comptroller and Auditor General report in 2010 had said fleet tankers being constructed by a “foreign vendor” did not meet the specifications of the steel as envisaged in the request for proposals.

It also said commercial negotiations with a foreign vendor for procurement of a fleet tanker, despite being protracted and delayed, did not take into account the quality of steel offered by the vendor. Excess provisioning of spares of Rs.30.44 crore and under realisation of offset benefit to Indian industry were also noticed in the procurement of the tanker worth Rs.936 crore.

Navy spokesperson Captain D.K. Sharma said all necessary procedures were followed “diligently” in acquisition of these tankers.

“Necessary procedures were followed diligently prior to the acquisition of these tankers. Also all approvals were obtained before signing the contracts,” he said.

INS Deepak, one of the two tankers with Indian Navy, had developed cracks in its hull when it was escorting INS Vikramaditya to India from Russia.

Navy officials however said that the cracks that appeared in the superstructure of the ship could have formed due to combination of a number of factors, including sub-zero temperature in the region, heavy seas and stormy conditions.

“The repairs were carried out in Lisbon by the original equipment manufacturer and the ship was made ready in a few hours. The board of inquiry constituted then to investigate the cause found no material failure.

“The ship is fully operational since and has been deployed extensively,” said a navy official.

INS Deepak currently on deployment in the Persian Gulf and is in Kuwait at present.

–IANS

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