Pakistan Navy has released a special promo on Hangor Day, paying tribute to martyrs and Ghazis and highlighting Pakistan Navy’s Hangor Submarine’s great success against the enemy.
On this day in 1971, Pakistan Navy’s Hangor submarine targeted Indian Naval Ship Khukri, sinking it and crippling another Indian ship Kirpan.
It was the first incident after World War II that a submarine destroyed a naval warship.
The story of PNS Hangor
On the midnight of 26 November 1971, Hangor sailed from its base with a load of torpedoes to patrol the Bombay Harbour.
Soon after deployment, defects were noted in the ship’s computers but were soon repaired as the patrol continued. Initially, there were two contacts that were picked up by the computers and were identified as warships, ranging 6 to 8 miles (9.7 to 12.9 km).
The ship could not pursue its targets due to the warships’ speed and the distance between them. Hangor‘s crew did, however, manage to predict the warships’ movements.
At midnight of 2/3 December 1971, Hangor, remaining submerged in a northerly direction, investigated radio transmissions intercepted from the warships belonging to the Western Naval Command of the Indian Navy that would launch a first missile attack on Karachi.
Hangor was passed over by the large Squadron of the Western fleet of the Indian Navy. The cruiser INS Mysore passed directly over the submarine.
All transmissions and computers were shut down to avoid detection by the Indian fleet, and once passed over Cmdr. Tasnim broke the radio silence and communicated with the Navy NHQ to warn of the attack, but this message was intercepted.
On 3 December 1971, the Indian Navy dispatched two ASW frigates, INS Khukri and INS Kirpan, under the command of Capt. M. N. Mulla.
On 4 December 1971, Navy NHQ communicated with Hangor, giving her war codes to attack the Indian Navy’s armada.
On 9 December 1971, at 19:00, Hangor detected the possible signature of the two Indian frigates dispatched in response to the intercepted communications.
Read more: Pakistan Navy’s Blue Water Ambitions
Later, around midnight, Cdr. Tasnim ordered Hangor to dive deep to carry out a blind (sonar only) approach as the torpedo team concentrated on tracking the two targets as they gradually came within firing range.
At 19:57, the submarine fired a down-the-throat shot with a homing torpedo at Kirpan from a depth of 40 meters (131 ft).
The torpedo was tracked, but no explosion was heard.
It was then speculated that the torpedo had missed its target, and the moment Kirpan sensed the torpedo, the captain of Kirpan realized that the ship was under attack turned away at maximum speed from the scene. Hangor had struck first, but had failed to hit hard.
As Kirpan fled the battle, Khukri, to its south, knowing the direction from which the torpedo had come, increased speed and came straight for an attack on Hangor.
As Khukri came in for an attack, Hangor‘s attack team shifted targeting to Khukri, quickly firing a second torpedo. The second torpedo was fired at the approaching Khukri and was followed by a heavy and loud explosion as the torpedo struck the magazine of Khukri.
INS Kirpan moved into the scene, hoping to engage Hangor with a hasty dropping of the depth charge, but a third torpedo locked onto Kirpan‘s tail, followed by a loud explosion.
Kirpan was not sunk but there was a substantial amount of physical damage that led Kirpan to flee the battle scene by turning west towards deep waters.
Hangor moved into searching for survivors in the hope to rescue them but Khukri sank in a matter of two minutes before Hangor could reach it.
The casualty roster listed 18 officers and 176 sailors aboard Khukri and it remains as the Indian Navy’s most costly wartime casualty in terms of lives lost. Kirpan returned to the scene the next day to execute the rescue operation along with INS Katchal but left without success.
After this incident, there was a massive search and destroy mission led by the Western Fleet, indiscriminately dropping depth charges hoping to sink Hangor. Cdr. Tasnim had Hangor submerged for almost a week, returning to its base with depleted lead batteries during the night of 13 December 1971.
According to his personal admission in 2001, Tasnim maintained: “An extensive air search combined with surface ships made our life miserable but with the intelligent evasive action we managed to survive these attacks and arrived in Karachi safely after the ceasefire.”[