Welcome to Indian Naval Ship Valsura
During the peak of the Second World War, the Royal Navy felt the need to augment training facilities in the domain of Torpedo handling and operations. HMIS Valsura was created to fulfill this need and serve as the Torpedo Training School.
The establishment was built on Rozi Island in Jamangar, a site donated by the ruler of Nawanagar state, Colonel Digvijay Singhji Jadeja Sahed Bahadur, Jamsaheb. A kind and noble hearted royal, he agreed to part with 30 acres of land from his game reserve for a token rent of Rs.1 per annum.
The establishment was commissioned on 15 December 1942 by then Maharani Gulab Kunverba Sahiba of Nawanagar. A few months after India became a republic , HMIS Valsura was renamed as Indian Naval Ship Valsura.
The Second World War saw a sudden spurt in the use of electricity onboard warships with the institution of degaussing and other counter measures against magnetic mines, the intensive use of radio for the communication and direction finding, the installation of early warning and gunnery radar, the development and the introduction of computers and fire control system.The course of war soon determined that torpedo training was very much required, and as a consequence, electrical training.
The Royal Indian Navy was modeled on the Royal Navy, and the Royal Navy already had its Torpedo and Electrical school, HMS Veron. It was natural that torpedo training imparted would have to be on the lines of that at Vernon. Next came the problem of choosing a suitable site. One of the basic requirements of a torpedo school was that satisfactory torpedo running should be possible nearby. The best place in south India, Cochin, had already been taken by the Royal Navy. Accordingly a Royal Navy destroyer on service at India, HMS Pathfinder was sent to find suitable alternate sites. The survey found the sea area around Rozi Island, Nawanagar state suitable for torpedo running and depth charge firing. There was a sheltered fishing port, Bedi, nearby where the torpedo boat could be berthed while Rozi was already a flourishing port used by cargo as well as passenger ships coming from Karachi and as far off as Aden and as well as other ports in Kutch. Rozi port was also connected to Jamnagar by road and a railway, which ran up to the jetty. Another important consideration was the need for an establishment to give administrative cover to the combined operation base called 'Port Fat Khambalia', which was about 30 miles off Jamnagar.
Consequently, the Government approached the ruler of Nawanagar State, Colonel His Highness Digvijay Sinhji Jadeja Saheb Bahadur, GCIE, KCSI, ADC, Jamsaheb, for land for setting up the new torpedo school. The Jamsaheb not only readily agreed to part with 38 acres of land from his game reserve on Rozi Island for a token rent of one rupee per annum, but was also an enthusiastic supporter of the project. The area selected for the school was on the island of Rozi, which was uninhabited except for the Rozi Port. There were, however, some places of worship, mainly on the periphery of the island facing the sea. The main area was the temple of Rozi Mata, which gave the region its name.
Once the formalities concerning the land lease etc were worked out, it was left to the pundits to find a suitable date for the foundation stone laying ceremony. How the pundits stumbled upon 15 Aug 42 will remain a mystery forever, but the foundation stone was laid on this auspicious date by the Maharaja himself.
Although Valsura had to bear the fury of cyclone that lashed the coast of Saurashtra on 09 Jun 98, but still, if one walks around the present 'Old Area' which was all that Valsura was in 1942, one can admire the imagination and foresight of those who designed the layout of the base. Each of the officers' houses stood on a spur of land, which gently sloped down the water. The Wardroom was behind the Administrative Block in what is now the Garrison Engineer's office. Facing the wardroom was a block, which housed the bachelor officers, while the CO's bungalow was a little further. This arrangement no doubt suited the Commanding Officer for he could keep an eye on the wardroom every time he went up and down.
Commander MFB Ward, who got the RIN Torpedo School going in the Naval Dockyard, Bombay as an interim measure, was the first Commanding officer of the establishment.
The name chosen for the new Torpedo School, Valsura, was derived from the combination of two Tamil words 'Vaalu' meaning sword and 'Sorrah' meaning fish. The choice of the name Valsura was considered appropriate because variety of swordfish is actually found off the coast Saurastra, and Swordfish was also the name of the famous World War II Torpedo carrying aircraft. The crest of the newly started school showed a swordfish placed amidst two crossed torpedoes and a mine with the Latin motto "Valsura Semper Viret", meaning "Valsura shall always be victorious".
The commissioning of Valsura was fixed for Tuesday, 15 Dec 42. Two days prior to that eventful occasion, 150 sailors and 10 officers arrived to form the main commissioning party. At 0800 hrs on 15 Dec 42, the commissioning pennant was hoisted on the main mast and the colour guard gave "Present Arms" to the ceremonial white ensign. Admiral Sir Herbert Fitzherbert, Flag Officer Commanding Royal Indian Navy, inspected the parade at divisions and took the salute at an impressive march past. The honour of ceremoniously opening the school was reserved for Her Highness Maharani Gulab Kunverba Sahiba of Nawanagar and was scheduled for 1730 hrs. The other dignitaries present at the ceremony were Lady Rachel Fizherbert; Field Marshal Sir Claude Auchinlek C-in-C India and Lady Jessie Auchinlek. So while the world was being torn asunder by strife and devastation caused by a mad desire for power, in this remote corner of the then British India, with the sea lapping quietly in the distance, a tiny spark came to life.
In 1948, there was a proposal to shift the Torpedo School to the Naval Base at Cochin since it was located far away from other Naval stations and Cochin was being opened up as a training base. However, the Jamsaheb was keen that Valsura continued in its present location. He, therefore, decided to seal the argument by donating another 600 acres of land on the same terms. The Jamsaheb was an influential person in the Government of India. He, therefore, ensured that Valsura continued where it was and in due course it changed from 'Torpedo and Electrical' School to 'Electrical School'.
When India became a republic on 26 Jan 50, the HMIS prefix had to be replaced by INS. The actual implementation took place a few months later on 01 Jul 50. Coincidentally, the then Commanding Officer Lt Cdr DHR Dadabhoy was promoted to Commander on the same day. He was the first Indian from the Indian Navy to command INS Valsura. A new crest had also to be designed since the existing crest did not reflect the true raison d'etre of the Electrical School. The swordfish was, however, retained but it was shown leaping out from the sea with its head and a large part of its body above water, with three streaks of lightning emanating from its head. The motto was changed to "Tasya Bhasa Sarvamidam Vibhati". It was taken from the Upanishads. The English rendering of this motto is "The light that emanates from here, illuminates all".
Over a period of time, due to increased commitments in training, need was felt for more space for classrooms, equipment rooms, storeroom etc. Also, the wartime complement of officers and ratings was inadequate for training and administrative functions. The parade ground was also found to be small as the strength of the trainees increased. Hence, it was decided in late 50's that a new parade ground be constructed in front of the Digvijay block (present Electrical Technology School). Slowly, additional facilities like pump house, power supply unit, Family Welfare Centre, Sailors Institute, cinema hall, accommodation for sailors and officers families, Wardroom Mess, sailors block etc came up.
The base slowly grew into a township and Valsurians felt the need for suitable educational facilities for their wards. The fact that Valsura was at considerable distance from Jamnagar town made it imperative that decent schooling be available within the precincts of the establishment. This led to the setting up of a Naval KG School, initially called Bal Vatika and also a Kendriya Vidyalaya. As the need for a committed medical facility was felt due to the burgeoning population of the base, a Military Hospital was also set up. This Military Hospital is now located in the Infantry Lines in the city and the erstwhile Hospital Barracks now houses the Victualling Store. A spanking new Sick Bay, which was designed to accommodate a complete hospital, was commissioned in 1989. As this complex also housed the Naval Dental Centre and the Station Health Organisation, it provided the much needed succor to the dependent population as far as medical services was concerned.
The establishment has over the last decade faced quite a few hurdles. Be it the devastating cyclone that lashed the coast of Gujarat or the Kargil crisis or the deadly earthquake that shook the whole of Gujarat, the establishment has bounced back and literally risen from the ashes like the proverbial Phoenix. The final feather in the cap was when Valsura performed a remarkable 'Outreach' activity- the restoration of the earthquake ravaged Moda village and the construction of a new Navy Moda village in record time. This achievement of Valsura was recognized by the Navy when the Special Unit Citation was bestowed on the unit in Dec 2001, an honour normally reserved for operational units.
History stands mute testimony to the fact that this great establishment, which started on a modest and humble note on just 30 acres of land as a Torpedo School in 1942 has today grown into one of the foremost technological training institutions of the country sprawling over 600 acres.