Year of the Submarine Arm - 2017
The Indian Navy celebrated the Golden Jubilee of inception of its Submarine Arm in 2017. To commemorate 50 years of glorious service to the nation, 2017 was declared as the ‘Year of the Submarine Arm’. The golden jubilee was conceptualised as an opportunity to memorialise the pioneers of our Submarine Arm and honour the Navy’s Submariners of the past 50 years. One of the major highlights of the celebration was award of the prestigious ‘Presidents Colour’ to the Indian Navy’s Submarine Arm on 08 Dec 17 by the Hon’ble President of India.
The undersea warfare saga of the Indian Navy started on 8th Dec 1967 with the tricolor being proudly unfurled on ‘Kalvari’, a state-of-the-art type 641 ‘Foxtrot’ class Submarine at Riga – an erstwhile Soviet Naval Base in present – day Latvia. The Submarine force saw active combat within a few years of its formation. Those were turbulent times in the Indian sub-continent. War was thrust upon Indian by Pakistan in 1971 and the newly inducted ‘Sharks of Steel’ tested first blood during the war as our Submarines were deployed along with other frontline Naval units in effectively degrading the adversary’s maritime assets.
Through the 1970s and 80s, the Submarine Arm expanded greatly in the capacity and capability. Contemporary conventional Submarines were acquired from two independent sources and we also had our first tryst with nuclear propulsion with the lease of a Charlie class nuclear propelled Submarine. In keeping with the maxim – ‘first to deploy, last to return’, our Submarines were mobilized along with other naval forces during Operation Vijay in 1999 and Operation Parakram in 2002.
The Navy’s Submarine Arm has had a chequered history thus far and in the past 50 years, 25 Submarines of six different classes of Russian, Western and indigenous origins, of conventional and nuclear propulsion, have proudly adorned the Naval Ensign. There crews have operated these boats, with exceptional professionalism and commitment, in waters near and far, and have significantly contributed to the Navy’s mandate of safeguarding the maritime interest of India.