• Thursday, July 16, 2020

Pakistan Submarine Commander Who Sank INS Kukri - Interview

Discussion in 'Pakistan Navy' started by Vapnope, May 9, 2020.

  1. Vapnope

    Vapnope SENIOR MEMBER

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    The interview was taken by Agha H. Amin (Rtd)

    Q. Please tell us something about your early life, your parents, family?
    Ahmad Tasnim: I was born in 1935 in a village called Mianwal located in District Jullundher, East Punjab. Our ancestors most likely came from Iran and settled in this area and took up agriculture as their livelihood. In Tehsil Nakoder there were a number of Muslim (mostly Arain Community) as well as Sikh Villages. Choudri Muhammad Ali former Prime Minister of Pakistan also came from the same area and his village was nearby. Most of our elders including my grandfather Choudri Muhammad Ibrahim and my father Choudri Muhammad Yaqub went to school at Shahkot which was the only high school catering for about ten villages. I was the eldest child followed by two sisters and two brothers.
    My father being in Government Service got posted to Jhang in early Forties where we stayed till about 1970 when my parents shifted to Burewala where my father acquired a modest house and some land for post retirement life.
    I started my early school in a Madrissa located in a Mohallah Bhabhrana of Jhang Saddar. This Mohallah was known by a Desi Dispensary run by Hakim Wali Muhammad mostly undertaking surgery without use of any western medicines. There was a large “Neem” tree, leaves of which dried or green, were the natural antibiotics which Hakim Sahib used in abundance. Any wounds accidental, or surgical were covered with a thick layer of “Neem Pattas” and dressing changed weekly. No infection, no antibiotics, no multivitamins, no fuss and the wound healed. Son of Hakim Sahib Dr. Muhammad Ismail was class fellow of my uncle Choudri Abdul Rashid and eventually Dr. Ismail served as an eye specialist in Kings Hospital, Madina Saudi Arabia. For his services and devotion to medical profession he was one of the first Pakistanis to have been given Saudi nationality and every child knew his name till he retired. I last met him in 1977 and was impressed with his humbleness, modesty and urge to serve the people.
    At the Madrissa School in addition to Quran we also did other subjects, therefore, it was a balance education. We sat on the ground and the teacher used the chair along with his dreadful stick. I still remember Master Muhammad Aslam who started with me at Madrissa School and by sheer hard work and self-education ended up at the College, where I became his student once more.
    After four years at Madrissa School, I joined 5th class at Islamia High School Jhang where Professor Abdus Salam (Nobel Prize) was also a student a few years earlier. Islamia High School was run and supported by Anjuman Khadim-ul-Muslimeen. This Anjuman was founded by Shaikh Ghulam Yasin who was also the first President. After his death Shaikh Elahi Buksh, Col. Abid Hussain (father of Syeda Abida Hussain) and Shaikh Abdul Majeed headed the Committee and raised funds for the school. Mosque was part of the school and Zuhr prayers were mandatory. Sunni and Shias were like brothers and on many outside school functions we prayed together. Emphasis was on quality education specially the science subjects. There was no electricity and petromax lamp was used for late night classes which was an improvement over the Classic lantern. Our Headmaster at Islamia School was Khawja Kamaluddin who had excellent command over English and a commanding voice. There was pin drop silence in the class when he uttered “Oh Boys Pay Attention”. I did my Matric in 1950 from Islamia High School Jhang and joined Government College before being selected for 6th JSPCTS Course at Quetta.

    Q. What was the standard of training and professionalism like in the Navy of 1950s?
    Ahmad Tasnim: In Fifties most of the officers trained with Royal Navy and other foreign navies. We received the same training as their own cadets and there was no mercy if you faulted. Sole objective was to achieve highest degree of professionalism for the young officers. Even mess life was part of the training.

    Q. What are your recollections about 1965 war?
    While ADC to President I got married in March, 1963 and then having left Nahid to complete her studies at the college left for Submarine training at United States Submarine School, New London, Connecticut. Lt/Cdr. K. R. Niazi was the Commanding Officer designate and I was given the assignment of Operations Officer. After the Basic Course we were assigned to various U.S. Submarines for sea training. I joined USS Angler, a World War II Submarine, under the command of Commander James Rooney who was an excellent person and helped me qualify in diving, torpedo firing and other operations of the Submarine. He was courageous enough to even give me independent watch at night, a great responsibility which I discharged with utmost devotion, alertness, presence of mind and correct reaction to emergencies. Before commissioning of PNS/M GHAZI in June 1964 three of us (Lt.Cdr. Niazi, Lt.Cdr. Bazal, myself) qualified a prospective commanding officer course with other allied officers mostly from Latin America. Crew of GHAZI was well formed up and efficiently integrated. Being the first Submarine, we felt very proud and Commanding Officer displayed exemplary leadership. He led us from the front and forged us into a fighting crew by the time we returned to Karachi in Aug, 1964. Submarine service owes a special debt to Admiral A.R. Khan then C-in-C Navy for his affection to the new service. He protected us from usual service jealousies and gave us special treatment so that we may overcome the teething problems and other difficulties normally faced by a new arm of the service. Therefore, Admiral A.R. Khan is truly founder of the submarine service and people of my seniority cannot forget it. A few months later I took over as Executive Officer (Second-in-Command) of PNS/M GHAZI. Rann of Kutch crises had started followed by tension and action in Kashmir. PNS/M Ghazi undertook a couple of patrols in enemy waters off Bombay and by shadowing Indian ships tested their defences and gained confidence. By good planning we were already in our area off Bombay on 6 September when Indians attacked on international border. The morale was high and we were itching to attack any Indian warship, not knowing that Indian Navy felt safe in the harbour and would not venture out due to presence of Ghazi. We came to Periscope depth and heard President Ayub’s speech which was a great morale booster. Towards the second week of September Ghazi had to return discreetly to Karachi for 24 hours to rectify a defect concerning our ECM (Electric Counter Measures) Mast. We returned to our war station and still found the Indian Navy bottled up in harbours. Incidentally government had not permitted attack on Merchant Shipping so War Ships were the only legitimate targets. This enabled our surface fleet to bombard Dwarka which was a daring operation without any air cover. During third week of September a short time after sunset we detected two Indian Naval Warships while at Periscope depth. The Commanding Officer (Commander Niazi) had a good look at the target and conveyed parameters (speed, course, draft etc) of the target to fire control coordinator (myself). He was also gracious enough to invite me for a quick look through the Periscope to confirm his observations on the target, which I did without hesitations. We prepared four Torpedoes and after I confirmed good fire control solution on Torpedo Data Computer, the C.O. ordered “Shoot” and torpedoes left one after the other for the target. Two torpedoes scored a hit damaging the target and thus putting it out of action for rest of the war.

    Q. Please tell us about your experiences in the 1971 war?
    Ahmad Tasnim: Enough has been written about Naval side of 1971 war including a number of books by Indian writers. Briefly, things were heating up in East Pakistan and war clouds were visible over the horizon. I volunteered and NHQ approved a patrol in Enemy Waters in Aug 1971 to gather intelligence and pick up vital operational information for war time submarine operations. This was one of the longest patrols (over 30 days) by a Daphne Class Submarine. It helped us to build confidence and to test our stamina and equipment under wartime exacting conditions. On the night of 21/22 Nov when Indian Army crossed the International Border in East Pakistan we sailed again with full wartime load of Torpedoes and Hangor was on station off Bombay by about 26 Nov. A serious defect in seawater circulating system developed which required docking the submarine to effect repairs. It would have been shame all round returning to Karachi so soon. Therefore, with consultation and support of my officers and crew we decided to take risk. We rigged the submarine as a fishing boat (night vision), listed her heavily by shifting water in tanks, kept vigilance for enemy and with faith in God managed to rectify the defect within 36 hours. During the night one Enemy Warship approached us. We would have been sitting duck if he had opened fire. But I resisted the natural instinct to dive and kept my fingers crossed. The ship closed to about 1000 yards and then taking us to be a fishing boat turned back and left us. Such is the luck which favours the Brave who take risk. After rectifying our defect we were returning to our station off Bombay when on the night of 2/3 Dec 1971 Indian Fleet (8 ships) left Bombay and passed over us when Hangor was at 50 meters depth. It was an excellent opportunity to attack but in absence of NHQ orders to ‘shoot’ one could not act on his own. I do not think that Higher Military Command at Rawalpindi ever realised that three Pakistani Submarines were on their War Stations since end of November and, therefore, should have been authorized to attack ‘Targets of opportunity’. Code word giving permission to attack Indian War Ships was received on 4 December and we started to look for targets.
    On night of 2/3 December the Indian Fleet was heading towards our waters and, therefore, I broke Radio Silence to inform NHQ about the enemy movement. Indians naturally intercepted this transmission and located my position. Instead of despatching a hunter killer group the Indian Naval Ships altogether avoided the area while transiting in and out of Bombay. It was frustrating to see lucrative targets passing outside my area and range. On about 6 December, I requested NHQ to shift my area and in anticipation of approval headed for the new area. Approval from NHQ came promptly and by 8 December Submarine Hangor stationed herself at the middle of New Area. We could hear SONAR of Enemy Ships and it took us some time to establish their Search Pattern. We were operating in shallow depth with bathy conditions extremely favourable for ships to detect submarines. Similarly sea was flat calm and any use of periscope, even for short duration, would be immediately picked up by Enemy Radars and sure suicide for the submarine. Therefore, we closed the two targets at 50 meters depth with caution, prudence and exercising all professionalism to avoid our own detection. At about 2000 hours one target came within firing range and with excellent fire control solution one torpedo was fired. The torpedo homed on to the target, passed under and did not explode. Immediately we turned round at high speed and fired second torpedo on the second ship. The torpedo exploded under the magazine of INS KUKRI and the huge explosion broke the ship in two and she sank in less than two minutes causing heavy casualties. KUKRI was ship of the Squadron Commander Captain Mohindera Nath Mollah who went down with the ship. Meanwhile, third torpedo was fired on Enemy Ship closing in fast to attack Hangor. The ship on hearing the torpedo reversed course, increased speed to outrun the torpedo. The torpedo hit her at long distance causing severe damage. Indians lost about 250 men in this action including Squadron Commander Captain M.N. Mullah. For the next three days Hangor was subjected to extensive depth charge attacks. Someone in the crew kept the count and according to him it came to be 156 attacks during this period. An extensive air search combined with surface ships made our life miserable but with intelligent evasive action we managed to survive these attacks and arrived in Karachi safely after the ceasefire.
    Having trained very hard including patrols the Hangor Crew had become efficient, well integrated and above all motivated for war. It was a team effort where everyone did his bit and did it well. I had the privilege to command an outstanding, intelligent and hard-working set of officers proven by the point that later on one made CNS (Admiral Bokhari) two Vice Admirals (A.U. Khan and myself) one Rear Admiral (R.A. Kadri) two Commodores (Waseem and Pasha). Others would have gone up too if they had stayed in the service. In deference to intelligence and professionalism of my officers I tolerated free discussion (a trait I picked up from Admiral Niazi while serving on board Ghazi) even if it was pain in the neck at times. Hangor action being a team effort I wish everyone of the 52 crew to have been rewarded but sadly it could not be so. Government awarded four SJ’s, four TJ’s and a number of Imtiazi Sanads. I, however, morally share my second SJ with all my officers, CPOs and Sailors who made it possible for us to sink first warship by a submarine torpedo since Second World War. I owe profound gratitude to all my crew members for their loyalty, dedication, hard work, professionalism and support given to me during the war.

    Q. What future strategy do you propose for Pakistan in the Maritime/Naval sphere?
    Ahamd Tasnim: Three Arms of the Navy can be best compared with an aircraft where fuselage represents the surface and each wing represents air and sub-surface Arm. For the aircraft to be airworthy three elements must exist together. No Navy can simply exist on submarines and aircraft. The future strategy should be to undertake hightech build up for two offensive arms (Submarine & Air) and go for a low cost midtech build up of the
    surface fleet. I do not agree with our Nelsons for high cost ($ 300 million plus) surface ships because no commander will risk their loss at sea and 1971 history will repeat itself in “preserving” them by returning to harbour. Merchant marine and ports/harbours add to marine to about 100 ships in private sector according to a pragmatic/liberal shipping policy should have taken place yesterday. Similarly Gwadar Port should have been constructed twenty years ago.
     
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  2. Vapnope

    Vapnope SENIOR MEMBER

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  3. pak-marine

    pak-marine ELITE MEMBER

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  4. MastanKhan

    MastanKhan PDF VETERAN

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    Hi,

    So true for pakistan's coastal geography---submarines and aircrafts---.

    For 1/2 the price of one Type 054---pak navy would have procured 2 sqdrn's of re-furbished JH7A's.

    To omit heavy strike aircraft from the order was a blunder by Pak Navy---.

    Thank you for the tag---.

    I have written it for ages---have the right strike aircraft and the enemy navy ships won't dare to come close---.

    The loss of one of their larger frigates would be a back breaker for their egos---.
     
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  5. DocEinstein

    DocEinstein FULL MEMBER

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    Very true.
    Pakistan does not have the money to match India with surface units and those most likely will be held back fearing losses.
    Strong strike aircraft and submarines is where it's at...
    However maybe JF17 in decent numbers dedicated for naval attacks can fill in the need seeing we can build them more economically instead of heavy fighter bombers that Pak does not have money to buy.
    I have no knowledge of JH7A's. Refurbished/leased might be an answer for perhaps another decade only I would assume.
     
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  6. MastanKhan

    MastanKhan PDF VETERAN

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    Hi,

    When looking for naval mission strike aircraft---you have to see what other nations are doing---nations that have a larger enemy.

    The only nation that is visible is Japan---against china---.

    So---what does Japan do---. It rejects the best of the best multirole aircraft ---the F16---and designs its own---a 25% larger aircraft---.

    The next question would be why a larger aircraft---.

    The answer is---to carry a minimum of two heavy anti ship missile for each aircraft---.

    The question arises why---.

    Because---it is difficult enough to enter enemy defenses---if one aircraft gets thru---it has at least two shots to take on the enemy ship---.

    The question is---why is it important to have ability to take two shots at the enemy---.

    There are three answers---

    1. ---what if one missile fails to launch---?

    2. there as a higher chance of a hit if two missiles are launched at one target---.

    3. what if one missile gets intercepted after all that trouble of getting thru then at least the second missile can strike at the target---.

    Now based on that you can narrow your search---. Look for the best possible capable and financial option---.
     
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  7. touela

    touela FULL MEMBER

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    Kukri kuu
     
  8. Stealth

    Stealth ELITE MEMBER

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    jesay may b nazar ata hoon aween stealth naam rakha huwa hey sab mujhe raptor ruptar ka pilot samajtay hain
     
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  9. khansaheeb

    khansaheeb ELITE MEMBER

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    What we also need are hybrid cruise missile torpedoes. They can be fired long range into the air then go into the sea in torpedo hunter mode. Perhaps the front torpedo part can be jettisoned from the main cruise missile portion.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2020
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  10. Vapnope

    Vapnope SENIOR MEMBER

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    Navy and Airforce should get more budget in coming years. I believe Pakistan really need to upgrade PN and PAF more than land forces.
     
  11. Sage

    Sage SENIOR MEMBER

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