Tuesday, December 7, 2010

SUBMARINE DAY: 8 December & Submarines of Indian Navy

8th. December 1967 is the date of commissioning of “INS Kalvari (S-23) the first Submarine of the Indian Navy.
The day "8th December" is observed by the Indian Navy as the “Submarine Day”- the foundation day of the Indian Navy’s Submarine Arm. 
INS Kalvari (S-23) - a Foxtrot class submarine was built at Riga, erstwhile USSR. She was De-commissioned after 29 years of service on 31 May 1996. INS Kalvari's Fin (tower) is  now installed at Beach Road, Vizag and is maintained by the Vizag City as part of its Museum. 

The special postmark was provided inside the INS Kalvari Fin on  8th Dec. 1999. The day coincides with the ‘32nd. Submarine Day’.(The cover and the cachet were designed by Cdr. U.N.Acharya).
On the occasion of this commemoration, a philatelic exhibition on stamps on 'Ships', 'Navies of the World' and 'Lighthouses' was organised in the Central Gallery of the Corporation Museum. The collection was lent by the eminent philatelist D.H.Rao of Chennai.
Cdr. U.N.Acharya, Hon. Secretary, Naval Philatelic Society was an organising member and the driving force of the Kalvari Fin Philatelic Commemoration Committee.
Special Post Mark of 8.12.1982, Visakhapatnam Naval Base P.O., first ever cancellation provided underwater, commemorating 15th Anniversary of Submarine Arm.
 '15th Anniversary of Submarine Arm' special Post Mark of 8.12.1982, Calcutta.
 Special Post Mark of 8.12.1987, Visakhapatnam, commemorating 20th Anniversary of Submarine Arm.
 20th Anniversary of Submarine Arm, postmark 8-12-1987, New Delhi.
Submarines of Indian Navy
 INS Virbahu is the alma matar of the submariners. With the acquisition of submarines, INS Virbahu, a shore establishment was commissioned at Vishakapatanam on 19 May 1971.  INS Virbahu  primarily functions as shore support unit for providing administrative, logistic and operational support to the I.N.Submarines based on the East Coast.
  Special cancellation provided from Visakhapatnam Naval base P.O., on 17 Sept,1986 to mark the home coming of INS Sindhughosh at INS Virbahu - the submarine base of Eastern Naval Command.

INS Sindhughosh (S55) is the lead ship of her class of diesel-electric submarines of the Indian Navy.The submarine was commissioned in April 1986 in Riga, Latvia. Sindhughosh class is one of the three diesel-powered submarine classes in the Indian Navy which is made in the surname of Ghosh. The Project 877 Submarines, known in India as the 877 EKM or Kilo class Submarine or 'Sindhu' class, were built under a contract between Rosvooruzhenie (USSR) and the Ministry of Defence (India).
 De-Commissioning of INS Khanderi on 18-10-1989. INS Khanderi (S22) commissioned on 6th December 1968 was a Kalvari class diesel-electric submarine of the Indian Navy.
 INS Vela (Date of Issue: 12.2.1984)              A Foxtrot class submarine INS Vela (S40) was the lead ship of her class of diesel-electric submarines of the Indian Navy. INS Vela was Commissioned on 31 August, 1973 by the then Lt Cdr. J.M.S. Sodhi  at Riga, Latvia, in the erstwhile Soviet Union and decommissioned by Rear Admiral (Retd.) J.M.S. Sodhi, the Commissioning Commanding Officer of the submarine on 25 June,  2010.

INS Sindhugosh (S-55) & INS Shiskumar (S-44)
Indian Navy has four Shiskumar class submarines of German design under 10th Submarine Squadron INS Vajrabahu, Western Naval Command.  INS Shalki (S-46) and INS Shankul (S-47) were built at Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai in technical collaboration with HDW, Germany.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

NAVY DAY: December 04

On 21 October 1944, the Royal Indian Navy celebrated 'Navy Day' for the first time.This met with considerable success and aroused enthusiasm not only in the ports where parades were held but also in inland centres where public meetings were organised. Encouraged by its success, it was decided to organise similar functions every year on a larger scale, and later, in the season when the weather was cooler.  Accordingly, the second “Navy Day” was celebrated in Bombay and Karachi on December 01, 1945.
In due course,“Navy Day” came to be celebrated on ‘15 December’ and the week in which '15 December' fell was observed as the ‘Navy Week’.
The special stamp depicting INS Nilgiri, issued on December 15, 1968 honouring the “Navy Day”, The ‘Navy Day-1968’ was very special, in this year the launching of India’s first Leander class Guided Missile Frigate ‘INS Nilgiri’ took place (23 October,1968) at Mazagon Dock Ltd., Bombay. 

 In the year 1971 India got engaged in a war with Pakistan. On December 4, the Indian Navy carried out a stunning attack on the Karachi harbour.Indian Navy’s six ‘Osa-I’ class Missile boats were deployed spear heading the attack on Karachi, code named ‘Operation Trident’.
 INS Khukri (F-149)
INS Khukri - a British Blackwood class Frigate was commissioned into Indian Navy on 20 November 1956. On December 8/9, 1971, INS Khukri was deployed on a mission to hunt enemy submarines present in sea lanes used by Indian submarines. Unfortunately, INS Khukri was hit by torpedoes launched by the Pakistan Naval Submarine Hangor. As INS Khukri started sinking,40 nautical miles off Diu Coast taking down with her a crew of 18 officers and 176 sailors, its Commanding Officer Capt.Mahendra Nath Mulla recipient of Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) (posthumous) did not try to save himself. He went down with his ship, observing the greatest traditions of the Indian Navy.  
  The act of Capt. Mullah and his crew is a shining example of the unyielding spirit and indomitable courage glorifying the highest traditions of the Indian Navy. In memory of the ship crew who laid down lives for the country, a memorial named ‘Khukri Memorial’ was set up in Diu in 1999. The memorial depicts the scale model of the frigate INS Khukri.
 The Pakistan navy's submarine PNS Ghazi (SS 479)  (ex.USS Diablo) was lost in the Bay of Bengal off Fairway buoy of Visakhapatnam harbour during  the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
In May 1972, at the Senior Naval Officers Conference, it was decided that hence forth; “Navy Day” would be celebrated on 4th. December in commemoration of the very successful Naval actions in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal during the “Indo-Pak War of  1971”. 

The first "Navy Day" on December 04 was celebrated in 1972.
 On this Day when the Navy dedicated itself anew to the service of the nation, the Army Postal Service Corps (56 APO) brought out a Special Cover to commemorate the Navy Day on 4 December 1972.

  Indigenously built Missile Frigate INS Taragiri appears on the NAVY DAY stamp issued on 4 December,1981.
This special cover was issued at Bombay to commemorate 30 years of Naval Aviation in India on Navy Day on 4 December 1983. The Naval aviation formally saw the light of day with the commissioning of INS Garuda, a Naval Air Station at Cochin (now Kochi) on May 11, 1953. The cover has the picture of  INS Vikrant (R11), ex. HMS Hercules (R49) -a Majestic-class light aircraft carrier, the first aircraft carrier in the Indian Navy acquired  in 1957.
 Slogan Postmark “INDIAN  NAVY  THE  NATION’S  PRIDE” provided from some select Post Offices on “Navy Day"- 4th. December 1987.(The letter shown above was posted from Secendrabad by my friend Cdr.(Rtd) U.N.Acharya)
 50th. Anniversary of ‘I.N.S. Netaji Subhas’(formerly INS Hooghly), the Naval establishment in Kolkata was celebrated on 'NAVY DAY-2004'.
 NAVY DAY-2005 was dedicated to ‘BUILDER’S NAVY’ in recognition of the Indian Warship Designers & Shipbuilders.
 Navy Queen contestants on board the INS Mumbai in Kochi on the occasion of Navy Day on December 04, 2007.
  Navy Day stamp of  04 December 2008
Dedicated to the stellar role of the Indian Navy in “Reaching Out to Our Maritime Neighbours” in peace and in war in the Indian Ocean. Smaller Navies in the Indian Ocean Region like those of Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Mauritius and Maldives, look up to India and it's Navy as a source of help, support and assistance.  The theme "Reaching Out to Maritime Neighbours" is essentially framed on these lines.Indian Navy wants to reach out and extend a hand of genuine friendship to all these nations for mutual benefit.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Ships' Crests

Crests are defined as primarily heraldic symbols above the wreath of a ‘coat of arms’. From time immemorial, empires emblazoned crests on their monuments to proclaim their grandeur, with the advent of heraldry in Europe circa 1160 AD there are several examples throughout  the middle ages of this device  borne on both shield and banners to identify knights wearing armours. Even today Crest means both a heraldic device on a coat of arms, seals, stationery masthead and institutional silver, as well as the ‘top’ of anything.  Crests can be very attractive in appearance , but more than that  they are also informative, being used to show the circumstances, background, achievements, status and even aspiration of the bearer. Hence Crests are more than a pretty artifact. A ‘Crest’ essentially links a legacy to contemporary desire for quality and class. 

 Keith Archibald Forbes in an article titled Bermuda's Royal Naval emblems and NATO ships' crests Graphic reminders of a special tradition on the walls at the former Dockyard writes; “It is entirely possible that the origin of ships' crests goes back to the times when many people were illiterate and for this reason a pictorial means of identification developed, to enable those who could not read to recognize the pictorial symbols of royalty, other aristocrats, military commanders and the like and what they owned or controlled.  Coats of arms and other heraldic symbols, still seen in many countries, are cases in point. In the case of Britain's Royal Navy, it has been a tradition for centuries for often warlike, descriptive and always highly individual names and ships' crests to be given to warships, all prefaced by "HMS" for His or Her Majesty's ship.  Since the late 19th century in particular, crests, or coats-of-arms were displayed on the superstructure of all English warships”. (http://www.bermuda-online.org/rndshipscrestswalls.htm)

I must admit that I learned compared with  what I thought I knew when I got the special issue on the captioned subject of the Quarterly Newsletter of the Maritime Heritage Foundation “LIGHTHOUSE” (July-Sept.2010). Cdr.(Retd) U. N. Acharya, the founder secretary of the Naval Philatelic Society of India through  his well documented and profusely illustrated article has done a splendid job on this little known area of Maritime Philately. Thank you Cdr. Acharya.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

US Warship in Indian Navy: "INS Jalashva"

It was reported in the press that India is seriously contemplating to build indigenous huge ship landing docks to give it the capability to carry heavy armed troops and armaments over oceans.The Naval Design Bureau has plans to go ahead to build over 20,000 tonne displacement docks in the pattern of INS Jalashva (L41), (ex-USS Trenton) an amphibious transport dock which it acquired from the US Navy in 2007.
 INS Jalashwa joined the Eastern Fleet (under the Eastern Naval Command)  at Visakhapatnam naval base on 12 September 2007.
At present the Kolkata (Calcutta) based Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers has the record of building smaller amphibious Landing Ship, LST(L)s of max. displacement 5600 tonne.
LST(L)s built by GRSE Ltd. Kolkata, a Public Sector Unit under Ministry of Defence, Govt. of India

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Warship Constructions in India; Coast Guard Ships

The Indian Coast Guard was established in 1977. It was formally inaugurated on 18 Aug 1978 in its present form as an independent armed force of the Union with the enactment of the Coast Guard Act 1978. Its motto is `VAYAM RAKSHAMAH' means `WE PROTECT'. The ICG is entrusted with multifarious responsibilities in the Maritime Zone of India, as a law enforcement agency relating to ocean resources, shipping, customs and revenue, maritime environment, protected species as well as narcotics. The Coast Guard works in close cooperation with the Indian Navy, Indian Department of Fisheries, Department of Revenue and the Central and State Police forces. Coast Guard carries out its multidimensional surveillance duties through a combination of on shore installations, sea faring vessels and aircraft.
 Indian Shipyards both Public Sectors and Private Companies have produced Patrol vessels for the Indian Coast Guard, but only a few ships have been found space in Philatelic illustrations.
 CGS VIGRAHA (39), the Vikram class  Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV), Length; 74.1 M, Speed; 22 knots,  Propulsions; 2x 4775KW, was built by Mazagon Dock Ltd., Mumbai in 1990 for the Indian Coast Guard.  The stamp was  issued on the occasion of the President' Fleet Review at Vishakhapatnam in 2006.
The FDC is autographed by the Commanding Officer of CGS Vigraha (39)
CGS Vigraha(39) is now  SLNS Sayurala (P623) of the Sri Lanka Navy . Acquired in August 2009 on renewable lease basis, SLNS Sayurala (Sayurala meaning: Sea waves)
The photograph of SLNS Sayurala (P 623) is from Sri Lanka Navy website

CGS SANGRAM (43), a Samar class  Advance Off-shore Patrol Vessel (AOPV), 102.45 M. long, Speed 22 Knots, Propulsion; 2x12800HP, built by Goa Shipyard Ltd was commissioned into Indian Coast Guard on 29 March, 1997. The stamp was released on the occasion of Coast Guard Day in 2008.CGS SARANG (44) 3rd of the series AOPV built by Goa Shipyard Ltd and commissioned into Indian Coast Guard on 21 June 1999 is shown in the Special cover issued in New Delhi on the occasion of 30th Anniversary of the Coast Guard on 1st. February 2007

  The special cover issued at Panaji on the occasion of commissioning of CGS SAGAR (45) 4th of the series AOPV built by Goa Shipyard Ltd, commissioned on  3 November 2003..

 Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) built Hover Craft in technical collaboration with Griffon Limited, UK has been depicted on the above stamp released (a set of four stamps with different motifs) honouring the Indian Coast Guard in 2008.
 Hover Crafts have the ability to perform where other fast boats won’t. Hovercrafts are amphibious, it can patrol in shallow water, mud flats, back-water rivers and marshes to intercept smugglers, militants, intruders and be used for life-saving operations. It can achieve a speed of 100Kmph.


Monday, September 27, 2010

"BUILDER'S NAVY", Warship Constructions in India - A Philatelic Overview

The Indian Navy’s resolute pursuit of indigenous design efforts, combined with endeavours of Indian Shipyards in construction of warships and submarines have laid the foundation of what is termed as “BUILDER’S NAVY”
    Naval Dockyard, Bombay was established in 1736,the maxim card depicts Dockyard’s Duncan Drydocks. It is the oldest Dockyard east of Suez which commenced its Ship-building and Repair activities in 1736. HMS Minden, an Indian teakwood man-of-war was the first ship to be launched in 1810 from Duncan Dock, Bombay. This was also the first ship commissioned in the Royal Navy from India.HMS Minden was a 74-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy, launched on 19 June 1810. She was named after the German town Minden and the Battle of Minden of 1759,a decisive victory of British and Prussian forces over France in the Seven Years' War.
 The "Star-spangled Banner", the National anthem of USA was composed on board HMS MINDEN in 1814 by Francis Scott Key in Baltimore harbour when he was a prisoner of the British on board this ship.

The Navy of Independent India made a modest beginning with half a dozen Destroyers and Frigates,a few Mine Sweepers along with a Corvette and a Survey vessel inherited from the Royal Indian Navy. The creation of a Corps of Naval Constructors in 1956 (not 1954, mentioned in the brochure published by the Dept. of Posts), setting up of a Central Design Office in 1964, establishment of Directorate of Naval Ship Design in 1970, followed by Directorate of Ship Production and Submarine Design has metamorphosed into the controllerate of Warships Production and Acquisitions at the Naval Headquarters.

The Corps of Naval Construction, since its inception on 23 November 1956 has rendered yeoman service towards the growth and maintenance of the Naval fleet and has effectively contributed towards transformation of the Indian Navy to a “Builders” blue water Navy.(Excerpts from the Army Postal Service brochure).

Mumbai based Mazagon Dock Ltd.(MDL), a Government of India Undertaking, under Ministry of Defence. Until the 19th. century Mazagon Docks used to build wooden hulled warships for the British Navy. On 19th. April 1961 the Government of India took over the shipyard from the then owner the British "P&O Line" with a view to build large frigate sized warships in India.

Govt. of India’s decision to build Leander class Frigates at Mazagon Dock Ltd. based on the designs obtained from the Ministry of Defence (MOD), U.K. in early 1960s marked the early steps of modern warship building in the country.MDL in collaboration with Vickers Defence Systems and Yarrow (Shipbuilders)Ltd., 
built six Guided-missile Frigates, INS Nilgiri (F-33), Godavari (F-20), Udaygiri (F-35), Dunagiri (F-36), Taragiri (F-41) & Vindhyagiri (F-42).

INS Delhi (D-61) a Guided Missile Destroyer built by MDL for the Indian Navy, commissioned on 15 November 1998.
INS Shalki (S-46), the first indigenously built diesel-electric attack submarine. The production of INS Shalki (S-46) and INS Shankul (S-47) submarines at MDL under licence between 1984 and 1994 was another MDL’s hallmark achievement. The submarines were designed by Ingenieur Kontor Lübeck. German Ministry of Defense designated the submarine as “Type 209”, it was developed exclusively for export by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) - a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.

Currently, French shipbuilder DCN International is collaborating with Mazagon Dock Ltd.on building Scorpene class submarines under ToT (Transfer of Technology) arrangement made between Ministry of Defence (MOD), Government of India and the French Ministere de la Defence (DGA).
 Kolkata based Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers, until 1976 known as Garden Reach Workshops (GRW) Ltd. The company was established in 1884 as a small repair unit of the British India Steam Navigation Co (BISN), On 26 Feb 1934 the Company acquired its corporate entity as Garden Reach Workshops Ltd. Later, it became a unit of P& O Line. The Government of India took it over on 19 April 1961 and placed it under the administrative control of Ministry of Defence.

The name of the company was changed to Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd.(GRSE) from 1st. January 1977 owing to its growing diversified activities. It has dedicated Units for production of Deck Machinery and 
 Marine Diesel Engine Plant at Ranchi as separate cost centres.
On 1st. July 2006 GRSE took over Rajabagan Dockyard of Kolkata from Central Inland Water Transport Corporation Ltd.(CIWTC Ltd) and became the largest shipyard in the country.

INS Magar (L-20) Landing Ship Tank Large built by GRSE Ltd, commissioned at Calcutta on 18 July 1997. LST(L) is an amphibious warship providing platform for the Armoured Tanks / vehicles and troops. She has landing and stowage facility for indigenously built Dhrub Helicopters.(The postal cancellation was designed by the author)
INS Shardul (L-16) the third LST(L) built by GRSE Ltd. and commissioned on 4 January 2007 at Karwar. This is the first ship to be commissioned in Karnataka and the first Amphibious ship to be is based on the Western seaboard.

INS Brahmaputra (F-31), the first Missile Frigate built by GRSE  for the Indian Navy, commissioned on 14 April 2000 at Calcutta. The first Naval ship commissioned in the new millennium year. The profile of this ship has appeared on Stamps, First day Covers, Post mark and also on Cover page of Brochures, thus making it  most published (philatelic) warship in India.(The spl. cover was designed by the author)
Affiliation of INS Beas with The Grenadiers of the Indian Army.

INS Beas (F-37), the third Brahmaputra class Frigate built by GRSE Ltd for the Indian Navy, commissioned on 11 July 2005.
The special cover was released on the occasion of commissioning of INS SAGARDHWANI at Calcutta on 30 July 1994 was signed by the then Vice-President of India K.R. Narayan and K.V. Raghunath Reddy, the then Governor of West Bengal. (The spl. cover was designed by the author).
INS Sagardhwani- a Marine Acoustic Research Ship (MARS) built by GRSE Ltd. for the Naval Physical & Oceanographic Laboratory, Defence Research & Design Organisation, Kochi. The ship is specially designed for underwater acoustic and oceanographic research covering areas of acoustic, physical, chemical, geophysical and meteorological experimental work at sea.
INS KHANJAR, the second missile corvette, a front line warship built by GRSE. Commissioned into Indian Navy on 22 October 1991 by Admiral L. Ramdas, Chief of the Naval Staff.
INS Kora (P-61) the third Missile Corvette and the first of the class warship built by GRSE Ltd for the Indian  Navy. Commissioned on 10 August 1998. This is a front line warship equipped with surface to surface and surface to air missiles and anti-aircraft guns fitted with early warning radars.
Twin commissioning of GRSE built Water Jet Fast Attack Crafts INS CARNICOBAR and INS CHETLAT at Chennai on 16 February 2009. The new generation Water Jet FACs, designed in-house, are improved versions of earlier vessels. A more efficient hull-form helped to achieve a greater speed.
 Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) originally known as ‘Estaleiros Navis De Goa’ was founded in November 1957. After liberation of Goa the company was leased to Mazagon Dock Ltd, Bombay. Later, the shipyard became an independent Public Sector Undertaking under Ministry of Defence, Government of India.

The Circumnavigation of INS TARANGINI, 23.1.2003 - 25.4.2004
‘INS TARANGINI’ is a three-masted barque, designed by Colin Muddie of UK and built by Goa Shipyard Ltd. Commissioned into the Indian Navy on 11 November 1997, forms a part of the 1st. Training Squadron, based at Kochi under the Southern Naval Command. INS Tarangini is the only Sail Training Ship in the Indian Navy.

Cochin Shipyard Ltd, Kochi, is now engaged in building for the Indian Navy, India’s first indigenous Aircraft Carrier, a second generation INS VIKRANT

Hindustan Shipyard Ltd. owes its origins to Walchand Hirachand, the then chairman of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company Limited. Born as the Scindia Shipyard in 1941, it was nationalised to be known as the Hindustan Shipyard Ltd in 1961. Having emerged as the largest public sector shipyard, under the Ministry of Shipping, it was transferred to the Defence Ministry in 2009 in order to augment warship productions.
Note; We shall present the philatelic representation on India's Coast Guard ships in a forthcoming issue.