- Grazebrook, A.W., Lietutenant Commander
- None noted
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Kanimbla I, HMAS Melbourne II, HMAS Swan III, HMAS Torrens II
- December 1975 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Amphibious activity was initiated by the Eastern Command when a force comprised of two Russian built LSTs and a troop transport attempted unsuccessfully to land troops over the beach near Cox’s Bazaar. This failure demonstrated the importance of maintaining the skill in a specialist arm.
Eastern Command forces mounted an effective blockade of East Bengali ports, capturing six merchantmen and a number of smaller craft.
Pakistani submarines entered the Bay of Bengal. One, the elderly PNS Chazi, was lost during a minelaying expedition off Vishakapatnam. It is not clear whether her loss was caused by a depth charge attack from an Indian R Class destroyer, or by an internal explosion. Another submarine, PNS Mancro, attempted to attack the Indian carrier task group but was driven off by escorts.
In the west, the Indians succeeded in neutralising the small Pakistani surface force by an attack on the Karachi region. Guided missile armed fast attack craft, supported by fast escorts, destroyed one Pakistani destroyer and severely damaged another, as well as sinking five merchantmen.
The balance of Western Command’s forces were assigned to anti-submarine activity. India feared an attack by Pakistani submarines on her trade and went so far as to employ her own ocean going submarines in the anti-submarine role. Escorts were kept at sea longer by using tankers, requisitioned from trade, for fuelling at sea – the necessary modifications were carried out in a very short time.
There were a series of anti-submarine actions, culminating in the sinking of one of India’s Type 14 frigates, INS Khukri, by a Pakistani submarine.
The 1971 Indo-Pakistan War is of some interest to naval historians and observers. Not since the Suez War (1956) has a full scale naval war, employing all arms, been fought. India is the only country to have experience of such a war and the advantages that can be conferred by the possession of a strong Navy. India has shown she can use her Navy effectively. She has shown that she understands the strength that Navy imparts by adopting a major modernisation and expansion programme.
Today, the core of the Indian Navy is still the Majestic Class light carrier Vikrant – originally a sister of HMAS Melbourne. This ship was completed in 1961 but her Seahawk aircraft are obsolescent. Nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that they performed effectively in the 1971 War. There are unconfirmed reports that the Indians are considering replacing Vikrant with a ship similar to the United States’ Sea Control Ship.
Two elderly cruisers, the Colony Class Mysore (launched as HMS Nigeria in 1939) and the Leander Class Delhi (launched as HMS Achilles in 1932) are still in service, though hardly likely to be effective in combat.
Regarding escorts, India has two Leander Class, similar to our own Swan and Torrens, except that the Indian built ships carry a Wasp helicopter each, and have no IKARA. A further ship of this type was laid down in 1970 and there were plans for a further three ships. However, it is reported that the second three will not be built and that a series of smaller craft, of the French A69 or A70 ‘aviso’, or patrol sloop type will be built instead. This change in programme would be interesting because it tends to confirm that the Indian builders have had difficulty with the relatively complex Leanders. In any case, the French craft are formidably armed with Exocet + SSWG launchers, a 100 mm gun (larger than that to be mounted in our own patrol frigates), four anti-submarine torpedo tubes, and an anti-submarine rocket launcher. Disadvantages are a lack of antiaircraft defence and low speed – 24 knots maximum is not enough for escorting modern merchantmen.
The Indian Navy now has eight Petya Class fast frigates, with the acquisition of a further two reportedly planned. These 34 knot craft are armed with four 3 inch guns and torpedo tubes, as well as anti-submarine rockets. They would seem to be vulnerable to aircraft attack.
Other escorts now operated by the Indians are two Type 12 Frigates (Whitby type), two Leopard Type and two Type 14 (Blackwood) type. Several old British built Hunt and R Class destroyers are still listed, although of doubtful value. Also listed are two obsolete and worn out Black Swan Class sloops.
India has devoted substantial effort to developing a submarine force. So far, four Russian built Foxtrot Type 2000 ton ocean going diesel electric submarines have been acquired. With a surface speed of 20 knots, and a submerged speed of 15 knots, these craft can range the Indian Ocean. A further four are on order – two for delivery about the end of 1974 and two later.