India’s Navy began as the Honourable East India Company’s Marine on 5th Sept, 1612, then became Royal Indian Marine and many names including Indian Navy. It became the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) on 2nd October 1934 at Bombay.
Ratnagiri’s Muslamans took part in First World war as RIN Ratings, called Khalasees. In WW 2 Indian officers and ratings took valiant part from 1939 as a miniscule force of 8 warships, 1,500 sailors and 150 officers. RIN was expanded. Posters, “Join the Navy & See the World”, saw officers and sailors join. Some were sent to UK, others were quick–trained by Goras in Cocin!
By 1945, RIN’s strength had multiplied fifteen times to 2,438 officers, 214 Petty Officers and 21,193 ratings with 14 bases and a Training/Air base on Cochin’s Willingdon Island for the Fleet Air Arm, from where the US Air Force also operated. Lt Cdr YN Singh a pilot flew from RN carriers and many others fought on RN ships in the Atlantic like our Army abroad and IAF in Battle of Britain. Because of the 1946 Naval Mutiny, RN did not credit RIN for the war.
Lord Admiral Louis Mountbatten (Dikkie) saluted RIN’s war actions in Burma and Middle East, and Flag Lt RKS Ghandhi and wife Bubbles would relate these. They became lifelong friends.
Navy’s ships are ‘operated and maintained’ by the Ship’s Company, unlike Army where EME maintains and in IAF, only pilots fight. The maintainers get good night’s sleep. On warships all sail and sink together, so skills to keep the machinery and drills in top shape are every body’s business. Topasses repair toilet flushes better than plumbers and load guns and dine together. Till recently IDF did not know they were Dalits.
So IDF has attempted a novel about a lovely sexy Dalit girl named Nirbhaya, who marries the Telegraphist Unni Nair a Naval Spy from Vypeen Island in Cochin, set in 1934 -1950 period! Draft is with a publisher, to review!
On 2nd Jan, 1950 RIN became IN and lost senior status.
Actions by INS Delhi helped amalgamate Diu and Junagad. In 1961 INS Mysore, Betwa and Trishul annexed Goa with sea action by INS Betwa sinking Albuquerque. Publicity for Navy was poor, so Government never learnt what a Navy can do. Even today Delhi politicians are Sea Blind!
In the 1965 war a Joint Secretary told CNS Adm Soman to keep Navy below Porbunder, but in 1971 CNS Adm Nanda proved Navy’s prowess to shorten that War. The Navy’s unique actions records in Mukhti Bahani operations before the war under the Army were destroyed by late Gen JFR Jacob fearing insurance claims! He is to be forgiven. He should have hid them, but he took on his bosses for credit! It’s all in Warring Nuclear Navies India—Pakistan ISBN 789351-566380 (2014)
Few have analysed it was those officers from 1939 to 1965 and sailors as they got called, are who laid the keels and converted Indian Navy from a Buyer’s to a Builder Navy. They had become senior and had spent months and even years in UK in Shipyards and Dockyards. The training and experience showed them how ships are built. IDF is listing names and contributions and inputs will be welcomed of officers of that period.
The senior officers, ERAs and Instructors became adept in the maritime field. An example. Adm SM Nanda was commissioning First Lt of INS Delhi and then commissioning Captain of INS Mysore and NA at Aldywch in London. Those who have commissioned units, only will know the task.
Nanda spent years in yards in UK. As CMD Mazagon Docks he set to build first Leander INS Nilgiri better than British standards 1965-72 with Constructors Parmanandan, Dhumal, Sethna and Dhotiwala trained abroad. Cdr SBN Singh (L) and CDR Dasgupta (E) trained in UK with IDF showed First Sea Lord better speed and firing on Nilgiri off Bombay. IDF as a Lt Cdr XO sailed Niligiri out at 24 hours notice as Capt DS Paintal was in Nainital. The visitors’ and ship’s book tells it all.
Gunnery Officer, Lt Madhvendra Singh shot down 3 Royal Navy PTAs with Seacat missiles off Singapore with Leading Aimer Milap Chand manning. It surprised the Brits who hosted drinks! No RN ships had done that and RN collected Rs 4 lacs for the Chukars lost. Madhu became the well deserved CNS, son of Gen Bhagwati Singh of Kashmir fame!
Engineers like Mukherjee and Daya Shankar planned the Navy, R Tandon looked after Dockyards and led to ATV space to build Nuclear Submarines, SG Karmarkar built bases, Bhaskar Soman and A K Chatterji led Navy, BA Samson was CMD MDL, JTG Pereira engineered, DS Paintal selected weapons and Cmde Kapadia did much at Yarrow. Adm Kirpal Singh left Navy to set up a maritime company. The list is being compiled as they sired so many who after them carried the baton, as the current lucky Navy does!
Much needs to be documented of the forgotten, like Capt BR Kapoor who with XO Lt Cdr Subimal Mukherjee and NO Naval Khambata commissioned INS Beas at New Castle on Tyne.
Around 1000 Executive, Electrical and Engineering (E&L) officers and 4000 Shipwrights, Artificers and sailors went to UK (1948-1960) for stints in Shipyards and Dockyards and got on the job training to refit, build and accept ships and work them up, many better than RN standards.
Between 1948-60 22 warships were acquired, and included second hand Delhi, three 22 DS Godavari(Ex Bedale), Ganga (Ex Chiddingfold), Gomati( Lamerton) Hunt class, and three 11 DS Rajput Ranjit Rana high speed Torpedo destroyers, Mysore and three newly built ASW ships the 12 FS Khukri, Kirpan and Kuthar with new 144/48 sonars, two 14 FS Trishul and Talwar and three 31 FS Brahmaputra, Betwa and Beas, and four M 24 Karwar Coniston class Minesweepers with Paxton diesel engines. Indian Navy entered Diesel age from steam! Vikrant arrived 1961 and after that the Soviet Story began.
The list of bases included Plymouth, Portsmouth, New Castle on Tyne, Davenport, Portland and Glasgow and others. INS Vikrant set a record of intensive carrier flying in UK without an accident. Adm A Chatterji stood by HMIS Sutlej in UK under Capt Murray Clark and commanded INS Delhi with élan after Karmarkar’s short stint who was senior most and first to command British officers and sailors as CO HMIS Cauvery. They thought Big.
It is their actions that inked Navy’s ‘Make in India’ 43 ships plan but RM Sithraman has cancelled 8 and 8 are uncertain, as MOD does not know history. Memories are made of History which repeats; and for those who forget, they suffer with maces ! RR.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE ARMY AND INDIAN AIR FORCE
IDF is conscious inter service co-operation in India is personality not system driven, but offers brief recommendations for sister services, as a tri service pseudo historian.
The start point for Army and IAF (not DRDO or MOD) is to write a 15 year Target Vision Document to ensure the nation, and all are aware what the Service looks forward to as achievable.
- The Army and IAF must select technical graded officers and depute them to designing institutions/ manufacturing organizations to advance their skills and also support an IIT for their sub-specialization for junior officers to form a cadre of designers as Navy has done for IIT Delhi.
- The selected officers should visit the DGND (Surface and Submarine) and WESEE set ups and study the working, manning and financial models of Institutions listed above which include a large civilian component and DRDO deputations. Navy’s DGND and WESEE should share details and lists of civilian firms they have collaborated with and officers have spent time with.
- The Army and IAF should take cue from how Navy has held DRDO’s hand for sonars, Brahmos and nuclear submarine projects with cross-fertilization and Sea Bird and Varsha bases. Much is classified. MOD bosses must also get exposure.
- Adopt the NATO STD 1555 and such standards in their working.
- Navy’s Directorate of Indigenisation (DOI) encourages Indian companies to reverse engineer imported products with samples, and arranges visits of vendors to ships to witness systems operating. Currently FICCI, ASSOCHAM, CII etc are arranging large Conferences. Many not connected are deputed to fill the halls.
- The Army and IAF need to visit a Naval PSU shipyard to see how much naval content including top naval management is inducted to steer ship building.
Finally technology has galloped. The services may consider inviting foreign experts in the field of choice to design directorates for a short period. Shan Na Varuna.