• Sinks with the Captain and his men in 1971 Indo-Pak war

New Delhi. 09 December 2020. INS Khukri was a 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 the Korean War. It remains the post-Independence Indian Navy’s only warship to be lost in war to date.

After the beginning of hostilities on 3 December 1971, Indian Naval radio detection equipment identified a submarine lurking about 35 miles (56 km) south-west of Diu harbour. The 14th Frigate Squadron of the Western Fleet was dispatched to destroy the submarine. It normally consisted five ships Khukri, Kirpan, Kalveti, Krishna 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.

In the early hours of 9 December, 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 low speed to increase detection, despite the fact that moving on low 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. 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. 18 officers and 176 sailors were lost in the sinking. The captain, Mahendra Nath Mulla, was among the casualties the only Indian captain to go down with a vessel to date . He was posthumously awarded India’s second-highest military honour, the Maha Vir Chakra.

There is a memorial to the sailors in Diu. 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.