INS Khukri (F149)

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For other ships of the same name, see INS Khukri.
INS Khukri (F149).jpg
INS Khukri underway
Career Indian Navy Ensign
Name: INS Khukri[1]
Namesake: Khukri
Builder: J. Samuel White, Cowes
Laid down: 29 December 1955
Launched: 20 November 1956
Commissioned: 16 July 1958
Identification: Pennant number: F149
Fate: Torpedoed and sunk by Pakistani submarine Hangor on 9 December 1971
General characteristics
Class & type: Type 14 (Blackwood-class) frigate[2]
Displacement: 1,180 tons (1,456 tonnes) full load)[2]
Length: 300 ft (91 m)pp 310 ft (94 m)oa[2]
Beam: 33 ft (10 m)[2]
Draught: 15.5 ft (4.7 m)[2]
Propulsion: Y-100 plant; 2 x Babcock & Wilcox boilers, steam turbines on 1 shaft, 15,000 shp (11 MW)
Speed: 27.8 knots (51 km/h)maximum, 24.5 knots (45 km/h) sustained[2]
Range: 5,200 nautical miles (9,630 km) at 12 knots (22 km/h)
Complement: 150[2]
Sensors and
processing systems:
Radar Type 974 navigation

Sonar Type 174 search
Sonar Type 162 target classification

Sonar Type 170 targeting
Armament: 3 x 40 mm Bofors gun Mark 7 (quarterdeck mount later removed)[2]
2 x Limbo Mark 10 A/S mortars[2]

INS Khukri was a British Type 14 (Blackwood-class) frigate of the Indian Navy. She was sunk off the coast of Diu, Gujarat, India by the Pakistan Navy Daphné-class submarine Hangor on 9 December 1971 during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. This was the first warship sunk in action by a submarine since World War II. It remains the Post-Independence Indian navy's only warship to be lost in war to date.[2][3]

Sinking of INS Khukri
Part of the Naval Conflict of Indo-Pakistan War of 1971
Date 9 December 1971
Location Arabian sea
Result Khukri sunk[2]
Belligerents
 Pakistan
Naval Jack of Pakistan.svg Pakistan Navy
 India
 Indian Navy
Commanders and leaders
Commander Ahmed Tasnim Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla 
Strength
PNS Hangor (submarine) INS Khukri (frigate)
INS Kirpan (frigate)
Casualties and losses
None INS Khukri sunk[2]
194 killed[4]

Incident[edit]

After the beginning of hostilities on 3 December 1971, Indian Naval radio detection equipment identified a submarine lurking about 35 miles south-west of Diu harbour. The 14th Frigate Squadron of the Western Fleet was dispatched to destroy the submarine.[2] It normally consisted of three ships Khukri, Kirpan and Kuthar, but at the time of the incident Kuthar '​s boiler room was being repaired in Bombay.[2] One reason that may have prompted the decision to deploy two obsolete Blackwood-class frigates against a modern Daphne-class submarine was that the Indian Navy lacked sufficient numbers of anti-submarine aircraft.[5]

In the early hours of 9 December, Hangor picked up two sonar contacts in the area.[2] The sonar and radar transmissions identified them as warships but Hangor failed to intercept them and lost contact when the range increased.[2]

The submarine sighted the squadron on the evening of 9 December. Khukri was still not aware of the submarine's presence[6] and continued slowly on a steady course because she was testing an improved version of the 170/174 sonar, which required a slow speed to increase detection, despite the fact that moving on slow speed was against Indian anti-submarine doctrine.[2] At 19:57 Hangor fired a homing torpedo on a sonar approach at Kirpan.[2] The torpedo failed to explode[6][7] and was detected by Kirpan which turned away and fired anti-submarine mortars.[2] Khukri increased its speed and turned towards the submarine, which then fired a second torpedo directed at Khukri.[2] The torpedo struck Khukri and exploded under its oil tanks.[2][6] According to the Pakistani submarine captain, Commander Ahmed Tasnim, the ship sank within two minutes.[7] Other sources claim that Khukri was struck by three torpedoes before going down.[8]

After a few minutes, Kirpan turned back to attack Hangor with depth charges, as her anti-submarine mortars had broken down.[2] Hangor then fired another torpedo at Kirpan before turning away and exiting at maximum speed.[2][6] Kirpan outran the torpedo and quickly disengaged returning later with another ship, Katchal, to search for the survivors from Khukri.[2] Hangor patrolled the region for the next four days before returning safely to her berth.

Casualties[edit]

To date, Khukri is the only ship lost in combat in the history of the Indian Navy.[2][3][9] Over 18 officers and 176 sailors were lost in the sinking.[3][9] The captain, Mahendra Nath Mulla, chose to go down with the sinking ship. He refused to abandon ship, and passed his life-jacket to a junior officer. He has remained so far the only Indian captain to go down with a vessel.[3][9] He was posthumously awarded India's second-highest military honour, the Maha Vir Chakra.[3][9]

A memorial to the dead sailors exists at Diu. 20°42′10″N 70°58′37″E / 20.70278°N 70.97694°E / 20.70278; 70.97694 The memorial consists of a scale model of Khukri encased in a glass house, placed atop a hillock facing the sea. The memorial was inaugurated by Vice Admiral Madhvendra Singh as the flag officer commanding-in-chief.[4]

Model of Khukri at the INS Khukri memorial, Diu
INS Khukri memorial, Diu

Controversy[edit]

Responsibility for errors by Indian naval officers related to the sinking has caused some controversy. The naval officer who led the inquiry into the sinking, Benoy Bhushan, has claimed that India's official naval history invented fictional accounts to cover up bungling and a surviving sailor from the frigate, Chanchal Singh Gill, has called for an investigation and withdrawal of gallantry awards to negligent officers in the squadron.[10]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Blackman, Raymond VB Jane's Fighting Ships, 1961-62 pub Sampson Low, Marston & Co Ltd, page 114.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y "The Sinking of INS Khukri". Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers Journal. russellphillipsbooks. Retrieved 20 October 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e http://www.spsnavalforces.net/mn_mulla.asp
  4. ^ a b Two-day ceremony at Navy’s Diu memorial
  5. ^ Indian-Subcontinent Database
  6. ^ a b c d Harry, B. "Loss of the INS Khukri". Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Interview with Vice Admiral Tasneem, December 2008
  8. ^ Friedman, Norman (1984). Submarine design and development. Conway Maritime, p. 188
  9. ^ a b c d http://www.ojnewscom.com/index.php?page=newsDetail&id=4446
  10. ^ "Khukri sinking: Probe officer terms row 'silly fiction' " Times of India, January 7, 2011

References[edit]

  • Mankekar, D.R. Twenty-Two Fateful Days: Pakistan Cut to Size., New Delhi:Indian Book Co., 1972.
  • Roy, Vice Admiral Mihir K. (Retd.), War in the Indian Ocean, Lancer International,1995.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 20°16′38″N 70°59′37″E / 20.27722°N 70.99361°E / 20.27722; 70.99361