8 INS Khukri Facts You Might Not Know

INS Khukri was an Indian Navy frigate that was sunk on 9 December 1971 by a Pakistani Submarine during the 1971 war between India and Pakistan.

Mentioned in this article are some interesting facts about the INS Khukri.

1. A type 14, Blackwood-class frigate

INS Khukri was a type 14 Blackwood class frigate. Such frigates were built for the Royal Navy in the 1950s when Soviet Submarines posed a major threat. Twelve vessels served with the Royal Navy, and an additional three were built for the Indian Navy.

The Type 14 frigates were made to be cheaper and smaller than the costlier Type 12 Frigates. They were designed for anti-submarine roles, though they participated in fishery protection during confrontations with Iceland over fishing rights.

Their crew specialised in anti-submarine warfare, and these vessels remained the most effective in anti-submarine exercises till the 1960s and 1970s.

INR Khurki
Image Credits : Wikipedia

These frigates did not have guns but possessed anti-submarine armament of Limbo mortars, 20 torpedoes and a sonar fit. However, in the 1950s, problems with their hulls were identified, and they had to be strengthened.

Their low-profile superstructure was a design meant to confuse the enemy. They had limitations, such as a lack of guns and limited space, which restricted them from functioning as anti-submarine vessels after the 1970s.

The small hull reduced the number of modifications and upgrades possible, preventing them from being armed with advanced weapons, ultimately rendering them obsolete, with most decommissioned from service at the beginning of the 1980s.

2. Technical Specifications of the INS Khukri

INS Khukri was built by J. Samuel White, a British shipbuilding firm in Cowes that came into prominence in the Victorian era. The firm built destroyers and other naval craft for the Royal Navy. It also built commercial vessels and lifeboats.

INS Khukri was laid down on 29 December 1955, launched on 20 November 1956 and commissioned on 16 July 1958. It has a displacement of 1180 long tons at full load.

The vessel was 91 m long and 10 m wide with a 4.7 m draught. It had a maximum speed of 27.8 knots and 24.5 knots when sustained. It had a range of 5200 nautical miles and a complement of 150.

3. INS Khukri was a part of the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War

This was a military confrontation between India and Pakistan that unfolded during the Bangladesh Liberation War in East Pakistan. It started with Pakistan’s Operation Chengiz Khan, which consisted of aerial strikes on 8 Indian air stations. After this, India declared war on Pakistan, entering the war involving the independence of East Pakistan.

India gained the upper hand just 13 days into the war, forcing the Eastern Command of Pakistan Military to sign the instrument of surrender on 16 December 1971 in Dhaka, which marked the formation of East Pakistan as the new nation of Bangladesh.

As a result of this conflict, about 8 to 10 million people took refuge in India and around 93,000 Pakistani servicemen were taken as prisoners by the Indian Army.

4. INS Khukri in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War

After hostilities began on 3 December 1971, a submarine was identified by Indian Naval radio detection equipment. It was around 35 miles southwest of the Dui harbour.

The 14th Frigate Squadron of the Western Fleet was sent to target the enemy sub. The squadron had five ships, Khukri, Kalveti, Kirpan, Kuthar and Krishna; however, at this time, Kuthar’s boiler room was undergoing repairs in Mumbai.

Hence, two Blackwood-class submarines were deployed to handle the modern Daphne-class submarine Hangor of the Pakistan Navy, as the Indian Navy did not have sufficient anti-submarine craft.

The submarine saw the squadron; however, Khukri was unaware of its presence and continued on its course slowly as she tested a new sonar version that needed low speed to increase detection, though moving slowly was against Indian anti-submarine tactics.

Hangor launched a homing torpedo at Kirpan, which did not explode. Kirpan turned and fired anti-submarine mortars. Meanwhile, Khukri increased its speed and turned towards Hangor, firing a second torpedo aimed at Khukri. This torpedo hit Khukri and exploded under its oil tanks.

Per Pakistan’s submarine captain, the Indian Sub sank within 2 minutes. Other sources suggest that 3 torpedoes hit Khukri before it sank.

Kirpan then attacked Hangor with depth charges after her anti-submarine mortars couldn’t function. Hangor fired another torpedo at Kirpan and left. She patrolled the area for 4 days before making her return.

5. INS Khukri sunk by Hangor, a Daphne-class sub of the Pakistan Navy

PNS/M Hangor was a Daphne-class diesel-electric submarine that was part of the Pakistan Navy from 1969 until it was decommissioned in 2006. It was the first submarine to sink a vessel after the Second World War.

It was the lead ship of her class, designed and built by France after a negotiation that began in 1966. Hangor was commissioned in 1969 and reported to her home base in Karachi, Pakistan, from Paris, France. Ahmed Tasnim commanded her and sank the INS Khukri, an anti-submarine frigate of the Indian Navy, with one homing torpedo.

INR Khurki

This was the only submarine kill after the Second World War until the Falklands War when the Royal Navy’s nuclear sub-HMS Conqueror attacked and sank the Argentine Navy cruiser, General Belgrano.

The Daphne-class of subs were diesel-electric powered, designed and constructed by French defence contractor DCNS in the 1960s for the Navy of France. The government marketed them for export, and they went on to serve in South Africa while subclasses based on the original design were commissioned into Pakistani, Porteufue, and Spanish Navies.

6. The only ship lost in combat in the history of the Indian Navy

Khukri became the only Indian naval vessel to have been lost in combat. With it, 18 officers and 176 sailors also lost their lives, including its captain, Mahendra Nath Mulla, the only Indian Naval Captain to go down with his vessel. He was posthumously awarded the Maha Vir Chakra, India’s second-highest military honour.

A memorial was built in Diu, Gujarat, India, to honour the brave crew of INS Khukri. It has a scale model of Khukri in a glass house on top of a hillock facing the sea.

7. INS Khukri’s crest represents two curved swords

The crest of INS Khukri represents 2 curved swords called Khurkis with the handles facing downwards and blades pointing outwards. This symbol represents courage, and its motto is also Bal, Sahas, Josh aur Dum, Kuhkuri Nahi Kisi Se Kam, which in English means Power, Courage, Passion and Strength, Khukri is no less than anyone.

Like its ensign on the crest, the crew onboard Khukri showed tremendous courage when it sank in 1971, especially the Commanding Officer, Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla. Six officers and 61 sailors survived and recounted how the captain helped the crew to escape from the incident but chose to go down with the ship.

8. A missile corvette was named Khukri to honour the INS Khukri lost in the 1971 war

INS Khukri was the first of the indigenously built Missile Corvettes. It was constructed by Mazagaon Dock Ship Builders and commissioned into the Indian Navy on 23 August 1989.

INS Khukri was the lead ship of her class of corvettes. It was named after INS Khukri, the only Indian Naval Ship ever lost in battle. It was laid down in 1985 and launched the following year in 1986.

It carries the same crest and motto as the INS Khukri and was part of the Western and Eastern Fleets.

She was decommissioned after 32 years of service on 23 December 2021. During her service, she was commanded by 28 officers and sailed more than 6,44,897 nautical miles, almost equal to navigating the world 30 times or three times the distance between the Earth and the moon.

After it was decommissioned, it was given to the Diu administration to be changed into a museum inaugurated by Union Minister Amit Shah on 11 June 2022.

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The information contained in this website is for general information purposes only. While we endeavour to keep the information up to date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose. Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

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About Author

Zahra is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is an avid writer, possessing immaculate research and editing skills. Author of several academic papers, she has also worked as a freelance writer, producing many technical, creative and marketing pieces. A true aesthete at heart, she loves books a little more than anything else.

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