PNS Hangor (S131)
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Hangor on 4 December 1971
|Launched:||28 June 1968|
|Commissioned:||20 December 1970|
|Decommissioned:||2 January 2006|
|Status:||Preserved at Pakistan Maritime Museum, Karachi|
|Class and type:||Daphné-class submarine|
|Length:||57.75 m (189 ft 6 in)|
|Propulsion:||Diesel-electric, two shafts, 1,600 shp|
|Range:||Surfaced: 10,000 nautical miles (20,000 km) at 7 knots (13 km/h)|
|Test depth:||300 m (980 ft)|
|ARUR 10B radar detector|
S131 was the lead ship of its class, developed by France after a long and complicated negotiation which started in 1966.:63 It was finally acquired from France in 1969. Hangor, under the command of Cdr. Ahmed Tasnim, sank the Indian Navy's INS Khukri, an anti-submarine frigate, with one homing torpedo on 9 December 1971 during the third war between India and Pakistan.
Acquisition and initial deployment
After the second war between India and Pakistan in 1965, the Indian Navy underwent a rapid modernization and expansion, causing the Pakistan Navy's focus to shift towards strengthening their existing Submarine Command (COMSUBS).:63-64 In 1966, the Ayub administration began France development and acquisition of the Daphné-class submarine. France renamed these submarines according to the Pakistan Navy's standards, such as the Hangor-class submarine on 28 June 1969. Hangor was the lead ship of her class, which included Shushuk and Mangro, and they were all commissioned in 1970.
Training of the crew took place in 1968; Hangor reported back to its base, along with Shushuk on 20 December 1970. Hangor is notable for the officers who served in 1971 that included commanding officer, Cdr. Ahmed Tasnim, navigation officers, Lt. Fasih Bokhari and Lt. A. U. Khan, and engineering officer, R. A. Kadri.
The ship's first war-time deployment was in August 1971, gathering intelligence on the Indian Navy and clearing off the Manora Island and Ormara Bay in the coastal areas of Pakistan. Hangor reported back to base in September 1971 but was again deployed in November 1971.
As covert Indian involvement in the East grew, the Navy NHQ in Karachi deployed its only (albeit aging) long-range submarine, PNS Ghazi, under the command of ZM Khan, to pick up intelligence and track the INS Vikrant off the Bay of Bengal in November 1971.
According to Admiral R. A. Kadri, the assigned mission was considered quite difficult and dangerous, with the submarine squadron sailing under the assumption that the dangerous nature of this mission meant a great mortal risk to the submarine and her crew.
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971
On the midnight of 26 November 1971, Hangor sailed from its base with a load of torpedoes to patrol the Bombay Harbour. Soon after deployment, defects were noted in the ship's computers but were soon repaired as the patrol continued. Initially, there were two contacts that were picked up by the computers and were identified as warships, ranging 6 to 8 mi. The ship, however, could not pursue its targets due to the warships' speed and the distance between them. Hangor's crew did, however, manage to predict the warships' movements.
On midnight of 2/3 December 1971, Hangor, remaining submerged in a northerly direction, investigated radio transmissions intercepted from the warships belonging to the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy that would launch a first missile attack on Karachi. Hangor was passed over by the large Squadron of the Western fleet of the Indian Navy. The cruiser INS Mysore passed directly over the submarine.
All transmissions and computers were shut down to avoid the detection by the Indian fleet, and once passed over Cdr. Tasnim broke the radio silence and communicated with the Navy NHQ to warn of the attack, but this message was intercepted. On 3 December 1971, the Indian Navy dispatched two ASW frigates, INS Khukri and INS Kirpan, under the command of Capt. M. N. Mulla.
On 9/10 December 1971, 19:00 hours, Hangor detected the possible signature of the two Indian frigates dispatched in response to the intercepted communications. Later, around midnight, Cdr. Tasnim ordered Hangor to dive deep to carry out a blind (sonar only) approach as the torpedo team concentrated on tracking the two targets as they gradually came within firing range. At 19:57Hrs, the submarine fired a down-the-throat shot with a homing torpedo at Kirpan from a depth of 40 metres (130 ft). The torpedo was tracked, but no explosion was heard. It was then speculated that the torpedo had missed its target, and the moment Kirpan sensed the torpedo, the captain of Kirpan realized that the ship was under attack turned away at maximum speed from the scene. Hangor had struck first, but had failed to hit hard.
As Kirpan fled the battle, Khukri, to its south, knowing the direction from which the torpedo had come, increased speed and came straight for an attack on Hangor. As Khukri came in for an attack, Hangor’s attack team shifted targeting to Khukri, quickly obtaining a solution and firing a second torpedo. The second torpedo was fired on the approaching Khukri and was followed by a heavy and loud explosion as the torpedo impacted the magazine of Khukri. Shortly before the impact, Hangor detected the direct orders of Capt. M. N. Mulla ordering evasive manoeuvres.
The INS Kirpan moved into the scene, hoping to engage Hangor with a hasty dropping of the depth charge, but a third torpedo was fired that was locked onto the Kirpan tail, followed by a loud explosion. Kirpan was not sunk but there was a substantial amount of physical damage that led Kirpan to flee the battle scene by turning west towards deep waters.
Hangor moved into searching for survivors in a hope to rescue but Khukri sank in matter of two minutes before Hangor could reach it. The casualty roster listed 18 officers and 176 sailors aboard Khukri and it remains as Indian Navy's most costly wartime casualty in terms of lives lost. Kirpan returned to the scene next day to execute the rescue operation along with INS Katchal but left with no success.
After this incident, there was a massive search and destroy mission led by the Western Fleet, indiscriminately dropping the depth charges hoping to sink Hangor. Cdr. Tasnim had the Hangor submerged for almost a week, returning to its base with depleted lead batteries on the night of 13 December 1971.
According to his personal admission in 2001, Tasnim maintained: "An extensive air search combined with surface ships made our life miserable but with the intelligent evasive action we managed to survive these attacks and arrived in Karachi safely after the ceasefire."
In a ceremony on 2 January 2006, Hangor was decommissioned from the Pakistan Navy. She was soon converted to serve as a museum ship at Pakistan Maritime Museum, avoiding the fate of many other PNS submarines bound for scrap. During the ceremony Vice Admiral Ahmed Tasnim, inspected the ship for the last time. Vice Admiral Ahmed Tasnim Sitaria-e-Jurat(SJ) and Bar had served as commander of Hangor during the mission in which she sank Khukri. The transfer of this submarine from a floating dock to the land and then her transportation to Pakistan Maritime Museum far away from the coastline into the land was undertaken by the Pakistan Navy as a project and Commander Muhammad Shakil Naz was the project officer for this challenging task.
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