By Aliya Nasir
“The Nation is secure as long as there’s a submarine on watch underneath the sea.”
Vice Admiral (R) Ahmad Tasnim HI(M), SJ & Bar, SBt, War Veteran of 1965 & 71 wars. He was the CO of HANGOR submarine which sank the Indian naval ship Khukri.
Every year, 9th December is celebrated by Pakistan Navy as Hangor Day in honor of the historic event of the sinking of Indian Navy Frigate KHUKRI and sternly damaging another ship of Indian Navy KIRPAN by Pakistan Navy Submarine HANGOR in 1971 war. The astounding action of the Pakistan Navy took place 30 miles southeast off ‘Diu Head’ on Indian’s west coast. Since World War II, this event is eminent in naval history as being the first successful kill by a submarine. HANGOR reflects Pakistan’s pride in the 1971 war and her heroic action not only resulted in the sinking of Indian Navy Frigate but it was a strategic overture of the Pakistan Navy which marginalized the Indian aggression during the war, crippling the Indian’s Navy morale and its despicable design.
Hangor Day also pays tribute to the heroic action of PNS-Ghazi which was deployed off Vishakapatnam for which the Indian Navy moved its naval ship VIKRANT further toward eastward to the Andaman Island. This action made the ship ineffective throughout the war.
It is vital to emphasize that the HANGOR-KHUKRI conflict did not emerge overnight on the other hand, the crisis in East Pakistan and series of event in 1971 were changing the dynamics of India-Pakistan position during war. Indian’s aims were to pursue its interest in war with its arch rival and decided that 1971 could be an opportunity to revive its political status.
During 1971 Indo- Pak war, Pakistan Navy’s offensive effort hinged on effective submarine force. Under the command of Commander Ahmed Tasnim submarine HANGOR sailed to patrol off the Indian Kathiawar coast.
For the first time since the onset of war, the enemy ship came in to effective weapon range when HANGOR identified two enemy frigates some distance off the Diu Head. The Commanding Officer maneuvered the submarine, determined to inscribe the name HANGOR in the annals of Pakistan’s history. The submarine closed the two targets at shallow depth with caution and launched a torpedo on the ship.
The torpedo exploded under the magazine of INS KHUKRI, through gigantic explosion broke the ship in two and she sank in less than two minutes causing heavy casualties. HANGOR also fired a torpedo on the other ship. The ship on hearing the torpedo reversed course, increasing its speed to outrun the torpedo. The enemy’s aim was, however, unsuccessful. The torpedo hit her a long distance, causing severe damage. This came as a shattering blow to the Indian Navy. HANGOR’s action showed Pakistan Navy’s tactical superiority in sub-surface warfare. Considering the shape, size and age of the ships at its command, they said that the Pakistan Navy had acquitted itself well against the Indian Navy.
In acknowledgment of their legendary courage, the valiant crew of Hangor was decorated with highest number of operational gallantry awards given to a single unit of Pakistan Navy.
Pakistan Navy Submarine Force has a glorious past due to the sacrifices, persistent efforts, professionalism and utmost devotion of our predecessors. The success story of the past decades, particularly during wars and periods of tension, has made the nation proud.
The writer is a Lecturer in the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad, Pakistan.