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Khukri INS (Blackwood Class Frigate) 1958

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Khukri INS (Blackwood Class Frigate) 1958

Postby Arturo » Mon Mar 09, 2015 9:23 pm

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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. Over 18 officers and 176 sailors were lost in the sinking. The captain, Mahendra Nath Mulla, refused to abandon his ship, and passed his life-jacket to a junior officer. This brave man had chosen a water grave for himself and went down with his sinking ship.

See topic: “Daphne Class Submarine” for more info about Hangor.

Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla has remained so far the only Indian captain to go down with a vessel. 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.

INS Khukri was one of three Blackwood-class, 2nd rate frigates (the other ships were INS Kirpan and INS Kuthar) built in England for the Indian navy. She was built by J. Samuel White & Co. Ltd., Cowes, Isle of Wight, England; commissioned on July 1958; displacement; 1,180t standard, 1,536t full load, dimensions; 310' x 33' x 10', armament; 3-40mm Bofors AA, Mk.9. TT, provision for 4-21' (two twin) but not fitted, AIS weapons, 2 Limbo three barreled depth charge mortars: 1 set seared turbines, 1 screw, 15,000 shp, 27,8 kts (24,5 max continuous speed) complement; 140.

After the beginning of hostilities between India and Pakistan 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. 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. 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.

Captain M. N. Mulla was commanding a task force of two ships (Khukri and Kirpan) which formed part of the Western Fleet. The task force was assigned the task of hunting and destroying Pakistan submarines in the North Arabian Sea. In the early hours of 9 December, Pakistani submarine Hangor picked up two sonar contacts in the area. The sonar and radar transmissions identified them as warships but Hangor failed to intercept them and lost contact when the range increased.

The submarine sighted the squadron on the evening of 9 December. Khukri was still not aware of the submarine's presence 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. At 19:57 Hangor fired a homing torpedo on a sonar approach at Kirpan. The torpedo failed to explode and was detected by Kirpan which turned away and fired anti-submarine mortars. Khukri increased its speed and turned towards the submarine, which then fired a second torpedo directed at Khukri. The torpedo struck Khukri and exploded under its oil tanks. According to the Pakistani submarine captain, Commander Ahmed Tasnim, the ship sank within two minutes. Other sources claim that Khukri was struck by three torpedoes before going down.

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

To date, Khukri is the only ship lost in combat in the history of the Indian Navy. Over 18 officers and 176 sailors were lost in the sinking. 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. He was posthumously awarded India's second-highest military honour, the Maha Vir Chakra.

A memorial to the dead sailors exists at Diu. The memorial consists of a scale model of Khukri encased in a glass house, placed atop a hillock facing the sea.

India 2000, S.G.?, Scott: 1801.

Source: Wikipedia and various web-sites.
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