TRAINING WITH THE ROYAL NAVY
In 1962, Government approval was accorded and an agreement was reached with the Royal Navy to train one senior officer and eight other officers in submarine operations, tactics, maintenance, and logistic support. Captain BK Dang was the senior officer selected to assimilate information for the development of basic infrastructure, maintenance facilities, logistic support, and various other aspects of this entirely new dimension such as training, tactical doctrines, escape procedures, and rescue and salvage.
UC Rates under instruction (Kolekar & Bist)
The officers who were selected for the great honour of being the Indian Navy’s pioneer submariners were Lieutenant Commander KS Subra-Manian, and Lieutenants MN Vasudeva, Roy Millan, and Arun Auditto, in the first batch, and Lieutenants MN Samant, VS Shekhawat, SJ Nagrani, Lalit Talwar, and KR Menon and JMS Sodhi in the second and subsequent batches. Six technical officers - Lieutenants Inderjit Singh, SK Singh, PK Ramanathan, L Saldhana and DN Thukral, and Sub Lieutenant SL Bhatla were also trained in Royal Naval establishments and submarines. A few key sailors were also deputed for training, and their subsequent role in the establishment of operating and maintenance procedures was of vital importance to the Indian Navy’s Submarine Arm.
The RN conducted the training of our officers and men in their premier submarine establishment, HMS Dolphin. After a few weeks of shore training, our personnel were assigned to various RN submarines for the sea phase of their training. This exposure, to a mature navy with decades of submarine operating experience, was invaluable to our early submariners and played a vital part in the formulation and consolidation of our submarine operating and maintenance practices when are Submarine Arm ultimately came into being.
The next year, 1963, the long-awaited and much sought Government approval to actually acquire submarines was accorded, but more disappointments lay ahead. Negotiations were held with the British Government for the transfer of a ‘ Porpoise’ or ‘Oberon’ class boat, but the talks made no progress. The British were only prepared to lease us the old ‘T’class, and the financial terms were not acceptable to the Indian side. After this stalemate, the efforts to set up the Navy’s Submarine Arm went into a temporary lull.
<< Classroom instructions with the RN in HMS Dolphin.