The Indian history is galore with stories of soldiers and common people who displayed acts of heroism while protecting the country against external and internal forces. These are the heroes we look up to and remember for their bravery, intelligence, and sacrifice they made in the process. But, there are many unsung heroes whose heroics never made the light of the day. One such name is Vice Admiral Nilakanta Krishnan.
Who was Vice Admiral N. Krishnan?
Vice Admiral N. Krishnan was the most decorated officer in the Indian Navy with over 40 years of distinguished service career and 17 medals to his credit. He was also awarded the Padma Bhushan and Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry in World War II. Vice Admiral Krishnan has been a part of many pre and post independence operations his role in the war of 1971, has etched his name in the pages of history in golden letters.
What happened in 1971?
Vice Admiral Krishnan was then the Chief of East Naval Command. India’s secret spy network across the border confirmed the news that our next door naval forces had deployed their most deadly war submarine Ghazi, to destroy Indian Warship INS Vikrant. VA Krishnan was directed by the central command to use INS Vikrant in combat against the adversaries. But, he was informed by his men that INS Vikrant had suffered a crack in the carrier’s boiler, making it highly vulnerable to attack and reducing its speed to a mere 16 knots. On November 23, 1971, the Ghazi had traveled more than 2000 miles to East Pakistan, Chittagong with a mission to reach Zone Mike – Madras.
Taking stock of the situation, VA Krishnan came up with a strategy to protect the prestigious warship from Ghazi, one that involved precision and perfect timing. INS Rajput, an ageing warship was on its way to being decommissioned, but VA Krishnan had one last mission for the warship and its captain. He directed its commander – Lt. Commander Inder Singh to sail 160 miles out of Vishakhapattanam port and create a substantial wireless movement to deceive the foes into believing that INS Vikrant was in close vicinity. To further mislead them, Krishnan ordered massive amounts of meat and vegetables to make them feel that the armada was in the harbor.
Image Source : wikipedia (PNS Ghazi)
As expected, Ghazi took the bait. In the meanwhile, Krishnan had directed INS Vikrant to be harbored safely in a safe water groove surrounded by palm trees away from the prying eyes. On December 3rd, when the war broke out, INS Rajput sunk Ghazi using depth charges. Later, INS Vikrant launched several airstrikes on enemy installations, making India victorious. Although the opponent nation denies the defeat, six dead crewmen were found with the missile below the waters.
Image Source : wikipedia (INS Vikrant)
The heroics and cognitive intelligence of VA Krishnan saved the day for India which won him the Gallantry Cross in Navy.
Like VA Krishnan, officers like Cdr Milind Mokashi, Second Officer Kalyani Sen have turned the tables in our favour during their face off with enemy forces. But the historic legacy of animosity between nations has enhanced and bore more structure by the presence of terrorist groups and pirates. Like in 2011, the Indian Navy captured 61 pirates who tried to flee after a gunbattle. Owing to this, additional security measures have been put into place like the IMSS, International Fleet Review and a combined commanders’ conference at INS Vikramaditya.
Albeit all the strategies in place, it is these heroes who have manned our borders and are still safeguarding our seas with utmost diligence. Here’s our salute to all the Heroes.
” Jai Hind “
(Facts, figures, and sources of the case: A Sailor’s Story: Autobiography of Vice Admiral N. Krishnan, Indian Navy )