Date of Birth : July 1, 1925
Last Rank : Lieutenant Commander
Unit : INS Khukri
Arm/Regt : Indian Navy
Operation : Indo-Pak War 1971
Awards : Vir Chakra
Martyrdom : December 9, 1971
Lieutenant Commander Joginder Krishan Suri was born on 01st Jul 1925. As he was inclined to serve in the Armed Forces, he joined the Navy after completing his education. He was commissioned into Indian Navy as a Sub Lieutenant in the executive branch. After completing his initial training he served aboard various warships and developed into a professionally competent officer.
Indian Naval Operations (Indo-Pak War): 09 Dec 1971
When the Indo-Pak War of 1971 broke out, Lt Cdr JK Suri was serving as 'Second in Command' of INS Khukri, a Blackwood-class frigate of Indian Navy. It was part of the 14th Frigate Squadron of the Western Fleet, consisting of five ships with other four ships being INS Kirpan, INS Kalveti, INS Krishna and INS Kuthar. The 14th Frigate Squadron had the responsibility of hunting and neutralizing enemy submarines in the North Arabian Sea. The Indian Naval radio detection equipment identified a submarine in the vicinity of Diu harbour on 03rd Dec 1971. Unfortunately, one of the flotilla’s ships INS Kuthar developed a problem and on around 05 December, it was escorted back to harbour. Following this, INS Khukri along with INS Kirpan were dispatched to take on the threat of the enemy submarine.
In the late evening of 9th December, INS Khukri was attacked by the Pakistani submarine PNS Hangoor which fired torpedoes at it, causing devastating damage. What made the Indian vessel an easy target for enemy torpedoes was the presence of experimental sonar equipment aboard that had been specially deployed for research. The limitations placed by this equipment had drastically slowed down the movement of INS Khukri to the submarine-detectable speed of 12 knots. Also, INS Khukri‘s sonar set had a detection range up to 3,000 yards, whereas PNS Hangor could fire from distances of nearly six kilometers.
The captain of INS Khukri, Capt Mahendra Nath Mulla evaluated the situation within minutes and issued orders for its abandonment. There were two massive explosions inside the Khukri and the ship went dark. It lost all power and began to tilt steeply to its right (Starboard) as chaos followed the order of ‘abandon ship’. On realizing the danger to his men, Lt Cdr JK Suri rushed and cut all the life saving floats and rafts and threw them in the sea. In the meantime, the ship was hit by another torpedo. Despite the fact that the chances of his survival were getting less every second, he continued to help his men to safety. INS Khukri sank within minutes, taking 176 sailors and 18 officers, and the ship’s captain, to their watery graves in the Arabian Sea. During the last minutes of his life, Lt Cdr JK Suri showed outstanding courage, helping save as many of his men as he could and not abandoning his vessel. A total of 67 men could be saved, which included 05 officers, 01 midshipman and 61 other crew members.
Lt Cdr JK Suri was given the nation’s third highest gallantry award, “Vir Chakra”, posthumously for his outstanding courage, leadership and supreme sacrifice. Besides Lt Cdr JK Suri, the other officers, who were given gallantry awards posthumously included, Capt Mahendra Nath Mulla MVC, Lt Cdr Prabhat Kumar VrC, Cdr M Ommen VrC, Surg Lt SS Panda VrC, and Lt VK Jain NM and Lt Suresh Hiranand Kundanmal NM.