INS Vindhyagiri rises from sea

The ship sank after colliding with MV Nordlake on January 30

* Navy maintains warship hadn't sunk, only descended to floor in her berth

After nearly five months under water below Berth No 5 in South Breakwater at the Naval Dockyard, warship INS Vindhyagiri was hauled up almost completely by late Tuesday, thanks to the painstaking efforts of a large team of salvors and a giant floating crane.

The 3,000-tonne warship went down after a collision with

MV Nordlake on January 30 in the navigation channel of the Mumbai harbour. The official line of the Indian Navy, however, has been that the warship had not sunk but had only descended to the floor in her berth at the Naval Dockyard.

While the floating crane, Gal Installer, has been stationed nearby for several weeks, sources said work on pumping out water from the submerged warship and pumping in air permitted the crane to start operations only on Monday. The Gal Installer is a construction barge with a pedestal mounted crane having a capacity of 330 tonnes. The Malaviya Four support vessel was assisting in operations. Sources said they expect the warship to be moved completely in a couple of days and then washed — it is extremely muddy after months of being under water — before being taken to dry dock for repairs.

The collision, subsequent fire on board in the engine room and the sinking of the warship is considered one of the worst peacetime losses for the Indian Navy. The usually heavily armed frigate is designed to take on enemy submarines and surface ships.

The Leander class frigate, commissioned in 1981, hit Cyprus-flagged MV Nordlake near the Sunkrock lighthouse within the pilotage area of the channel on January 30 at 4.36 pm, as it was entering the harbour after a day at sea for families of sailors and officers. No one was hurt in the mishap.

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