- Corau, A., Capitaine, FN
- History - general
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1979 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Since the sighting the enemy had continued to change course, which gave the hunter some problems. On the evening of the 8th the enemy was on a north-westerly course, then on the morning of the 9th they changed to a north-easterly course, then to a south-easterly course about noon.
Commander Taznim now realised that the enemy ships had been on a course that described a rectangle. Then at 1900 the ships set a course to the north west. At 1915 Commander Taznim estimated their mean course and dived to attack. He altered course on the frigate on the western side (Kirpan) at very slow speed in order to present the smallest silhouette to the enemy’s sonar. He decided not to hurry the moment of firing, but to wait for the moment the enemy would be on target, judged to be at 2000.
At 2013 a sharp order broke the silence: ‘Fire‘. Everyone was tense. The torpedo left the tube and was heard moving towards the target, but then they heard it passing under without exploding.
There was no time to criticise this failure. The frigate on the eastern side (Khurkri) passed in her turn at high speed at a range of about 500 metres. There was just time to set the range and at 2017 a second torpedo was fired. At the sonar, Mohamed Miskeen, disappointed with the first firing, concentrated all his efforts on the hydrophones. Suddenly he heard a tremendous roaring – he snatched the hydrophones from his ears and in his joy prostrated himself on the deck shouting ‘Allah is Great!‘
Kirpan returned to pick up survivors and her course brought her in line with the submarine, which promptly fired a third torpedo, but the frigate was prepared for the attack and left at high speed. After 8 or 10 minutes a very clear explosion was heard, followed by the stopping of the Kirpan’s machinery. Commander Taznim considered that he had hit the frigate, but he decided to abandon the attack and made for deep water. Kirpan had a badly damaged stern and was unable to steam, she was finally towed into Bombay.
There followed three days of depth charge attacks by Shackletons, Alizes and escorts. The submarine suffered 156 depth charges, most of which were a long way off. Every time the submarine used the snorkel it was spotted by aircraft, but the escorts led to the position by the aircraft never made contact. Finally the Hangor managed to escape and carry on her mission.
On the morning of the 18th December, a long black silhouette glided into the port of Karachi.
All on board were exhausted but triumphant. The crew were seen lined up on the casing. Commander Taznim felt very strongly about the uncertainty which dominated the capability of his command until the first engagement. Two of his men had broken down during the encounter, one of whom was one of his most capable officers.
Also he thought that he had returned safely because he had taken risks, which would not have been acceptable in peacetime, and had not taken certain risks which his crew would not have been able to sustain.
But his thoughts were interrupted by the fanfare and ovations which came from the quay. The time for risks and loneliness were now finished for him, now came the time for honours.