Oscar Stanley Dawson

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Oscar Stanley Dawson

Admiral Oscar Stanley Dawson.png
Born(1923-11-13)13 November 1923
British Burma, British Raj
(now Myanmar)
Died23 October 2011(2011-10-23) (aged 87)
Bangalore, India
Allegiance British India (1943-1947)
 India (from 1947)
Service/branch Indian Navy
Years of service1943–1984
RankIN Admiral Shoulder curl.png Indian Admiral.jpg Admiral
Commands heldChief of the Naval Staff
Southern Naval Command
Eastern Fleet
INS Nilgiri (F33)
INS Talwar
Battles/warsWorld War II
Liberation of Goa
Indo-Pakistani War of 1965
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
AwardsAti Vishisht Seva Medal
Param Vishisht Seva Medal
Other workHigh Commissioner to New Zealand
President, Anga Karunya Kendra

Admiral Oscar Stanley Dawson (13 November 1923 – 23 October 2011) was a four-star admiral in the Indian Navy. He served as the 12th Chief of the Naval Staff from 1 March 1982 to 30 November 1984.[1] From 1983 until his retirement, he also served as the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee of the Indian Armed Forces. He previously served as the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) of the Southern Naval Command and Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Fleet (FOCEF). Adm Dawson was also the Director of Naval Operations during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971.

After retirement, Admiral Dawson served as the Indian High Commissioner to New Zealand. He also campaigned for a number of environmental causes and worked on the rehabilitation of the handicapped. Admiral Dawson died of cerebral haemorrhage at the Command Hospital, Bangalore in October 2011.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Oscar Stanley was born in Burma on 13 November 1923 to E. S. and Oliva Dawson.[1] The family had origins in the Nadar community of Tamil Nadu and professed Christianity. He received his high school education in his hometown Nagercoil, at Scott Christian College.[4] During the Japanese occupation of Burma in March 1942, his family was evacuated back to India.

Naval career[edit]

Upon returning to India, Dawson continued with college studies, but left to enlist in the Royal Indian Navy Volunteer Reserve. He received his commission as a midshipman on 8 January 1943.[5]

He received training as a specialist in navigation and direction in the United Kingdom. During World War II, he participated in the Arakan Campaign 1944-1945 and served on escort convoys in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.[6] Following the independence of India, he was absorbed into the Indian Navy.

Among his early assignments, Dawson served as the naval aide-de-camp to the first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, during 1953-54. He was promoted lieutenant-commander on 1 April 1956.[7] Following graduation from the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington in 1957, he served as the navigating officer of INS Vikrant (R11). Later he served as the fleet navigating officer. Among the commands he held at sea, included those as the commanding officer of INS Talwar(F140) and INS Nilgiri (F33). His appointments on shore included that as the commandant, Navigation and Direction School; director, Tactical School and chief staff officer, Cochin Area.

Dawson was promoted to substantive captain on 30 June 1969.[8] He was the Director of Naval Operations (DNO) at Naval Headquarters (NHQ) during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. Some of the Indian Navy's most famous operational successes, including Operation Trident, Operation Python and the naval blockade of East Pakistan were accomplished during his tenure as DNO. Dawson was awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) for his services and leadership during the conflict.

He graduated from the National Defence College, New Delhi in 1973. Subsequently promoted to commodore and then to acting rear admiral on 8 March 1976,[9] he served as the Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Fleet (FOCEF) between February 1978 and March 1979. He later served as the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-IN-C), Southern Naval Command. In 1981, he was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) for his distinguished service to the Indian Navy.

Dawson was promoted to admiral and succeeded Adm R L Pereira as the 12th Chief of the Naval Staff, taking command on 1 March 1982. Among his most significant contributions in office was the planning and vision for Project Seabird.[10]

Dawson retired from service on 30 November 1984,[11][12] having spent 19 of his 41-year naval career at sea.

Later life[edit]

Dawson served as the Indian High Commissioner to New Zealand between August 1985 and September 1987.

After retirement, Dawson lived in Bangalore and Nagercoil and actively supported a number of environmental causes. He led the campaign to clean Ulsoor lake in Bangalore. He was instrumental in the campaign to discontinue the use of leaded petrol in the 1990s. He was also a skilled pianist.[13]

Since 2005, he served as the president of the charitable organization, Anga Karunya Kendra, focused on supporting rehabilitation of the handicapped. The organization primarily supports patients suffering from polio, muscular dystrophy and cerebral palsy, as well as victims of accidents. A major focus of the organization is on rehabilitation using prostheses.[12]


Dawson died of cerebral hemorrhage on 23 October 2011, aged 87. He never married and was survived by his sister, Thelma.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Admiral Oscar Stanley Dawson, PVSM, AVSM". Information Resource Facilitation Centre, Indian Navy. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Former Chief of Naval Staff Dawson dead". Deccan Chronicle. 23 October 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  3. ^ "Admiral Oscar Stanley Dawson Former Indian Navy Chief Passes Away". Frontier India News Network (FINN). 23 October 2011. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
  4. ^ "Scott Alumni Association"
  5. ^ "Officers of the Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve". The Navy List: July 1945. HM Government, UK. 1945. p. 2125.
  6. ^ S. Sartaj Alam Abidi, Satinder Sharma, Services chiefs of India (2007), p. 119
  7. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Navy Branch)". The Gazette of India. 22 September 1956. p. 186.
  8. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Navy Branch)". The Gazette of India. 17 January 1970. p. 88.
  9. ^ "Part I-Section 4: Ministry of Defence (Navy Branch)". The Gazette of India. 22 May 1976. p. 695.
  10. ^ Ramachandran, Sudha (18 June 2005). "Indian navy on the crest of a wave". Asia Times. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  11. ^ "Admiral Oscar Stanley Dawson". Bharat-Rakshak.com. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  12. ^ a b "A relentless fighter". The Hindu. Kasturi and Sons, Ltd. 2 December 2006. Retrieved 27 December 2010.
  13. ^ Krishnan, M. Anantha (2011) Now, Admiral Dawson on new voyage. New Indian Express. 24 October 2011
Military offices
Preceded by
Ronald Lynsdale Pereira
Chief of the Naval Staff
Succeeded by
Radhakrishna Hariram Tahiliani