Service No : RP/ECE/66

Last Rank : Lieutenant

Unit : INS Khukri

Arm/Regt : Indian Navy

Operation : Indo-Pak War 1971

Awards : Nao Sena Medal

Martyrdom : December 9, 1971

Lt Vinod Kumar Jain NM

Lt Vinod Kumar Jain was an outstanding student and his academic brilliance was evident right from his early childhood days. When studying in junior classes, with his photographic memory he could recall verbatim the contents of any book page after quietly reading it for a minute or so. And, therefore, no surprise that he got a double promotion and passed matriculation at the age of 13 years in the 1st Division. He continued his studies and joined IIT Kharagpur for pursuing Electrical Engineering, from where he graduated with Honours. In his final year at IIT, he was selected by Indian Navy, a career that he believed was prestigious and glamorous in preference to other lucrative corporate assignments that were offered to him.

 

His inclination toward research in Electrical Engineering led to his assignment for a year-long advanced course with the Royal Navy in England. On completion of his assignment, he hired a scooter to tour European countries as the history of the Naval prowess of these countries always fascinated him. When he returned home, he was assigned to the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) for a project to improve sonar systems on naval ships. At that time, facing less than adequate performance of the existing sonars with the F-14 Squadron and some other ships, the Indian Navy instituted a research project with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) to find ways and means by which the performance of existing sonars could be improved. Lt VK Jain, was working on this project at the BARC. 

 

Certain positive outcomes emerged from the research being conducted by Lt VK Jain. Headquarters Western Naval Command decided that it would be a good idea to incorporate the version of the sonar that was still in the experimental stage at BARC on INS Khukri.  Thus Lt VK Jain came aboard INS Khukri on 6 December 1971, the day it reached back to Bombay after its mission. 

 

Indian Naval Operations (Indo-Pak War): 09 Dec 1971

 

On 06 Dec 1971, Lt Vinod Kumar Jain was aboard 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. Naval Headquarters ordered the Western Fleet to hunt and destroy the enemy submarine detected in Indian waters near Diu. This order was passed on to the commander of the F-14 Squadron, Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla. The squadron was, however, now reduced to two anti-submarine frigates, INS Kuthar not being available.

 

The two anti-submarine frigates left Bombay for their mission on 08 December and by the morning of 09 December were approaching the reported location of the enemy submarine. This was the ‘Hunter-Killer Force’ according to the TAS (Torpedo and Anti-Submarine specialists) of Western Naval Command.  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 of 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 comrades, Lt Vinod Kumar Jain swung into action to get them to safety. 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. He eventually could not survive and was martyred. INS Khukri sank within minutes, taking 176 sailors and 18 officers, and the ship’s captain, to their watery graves in the Arabian Sea.  

 

Lt Vinod Kumar Jain was awarded the "Nao Sena Medal" (Gallantry) posthumously for his commendable courage and selfless actions. Besides Lt Vinod Kumar Jain, the other officers, who were given gallantry awards posthumously included, Capt Mahendra Nath Mulla MVC,  Lt Cdr JK Suri VrC, Lt Cdr Prabhat Kumar VrC, Cdr M Ommen VrC, Surg Lt SS Panda VrC and Lt Suresh Hiranand Kundanmal NM.  

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11 Comments
  • Captain Sanjay Sharma Retd

    2023at10:12 am Reply

    A vibrant happy morning with greetings on Vijay Diwas. In the gesture above, Lt VK Jain was the ALO from our / my electrical branch . I survived 36 years fortunately to come alive and enjoy the full freedom which these brave heart sacrificed themselves . A road is named after him in INS Valsura Jamnagar Gujarat where I stayed in P13/4 during my instructor’s tenure. Those staying in married double storied accm in super new area of Valsura may have taken this road for going to wardroom. Surprisingly I never bothered to check who is this officer during my 2 year tenure. Maybe Val kept us really busy. Pray for Sadgati to all those who have laid down their lives in service of this country, in performance of their duties, whether military, civilian, scientist, bureaucrat, police officer or even that unfortunate truck driver.

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