admiral krishnan DP

Service: Navy

Last Rank: Vice Admiral

Service Years: 1925 – 1976

Awards: Padma Bhushan, DCS, PVSM

Date of Demise: Jan 1982

Vice Admiral Nilakanta Krishnan

Vice Admiral Nilakanta Krishnan (1919 – 1982) was an officer of the Indian Navy and recipient of the prestigious Padma Bhushan among others. He was the Flag Officer Commanding in Chief of the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy during the Indo-Pak War of 1971. He met a natural death in January 1982 after having one of the most decorated military careers in the naval officer.


Vice Admiral Krishnan was born the youngest son of Rao Bahadur Mahadeva Nilakanta Ayyar, who worked as an executive engineer. His eldest brother had gone into the line of Indian Civil Services while Vice Admiral Krishnan had a different passion. He joined the Royal Indian Navy at the age of 16. On the 1st of September. 1940, he was appointed the Sub-Lieutenant of the Royal Indian Navy. Through the length of his military career, he engaged in pre and post-independence battles, in Europe and Asia. In 1942, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for “courage, enterprise, and devotion to duty in operations in the Persian Gulf”. He had been serving on the HMIS Investigator then. He was one of the only two Indian soldiers to win the cross. In 1961, he led the naval push that brought down the Portuguese flag and liberated Goa, Diu, and Daman.




During the Indo-Pak War of 1971, Vice Admiral Krishnan was serving as the Chief of Eastern Naval Command. It was during this war that he carried out what many consider “of the great sea-faring victories in Indian naval history.”


Before the onset of the war, Pakistani troops had the intentions to surprise Indian Forces. On the 14th of November, 1971, Pakistan dispatched one of its deadliest weapons, the assault submarine Ghazi. With the aim of annihilating the INS Vikrant, they sent it to Chittagong in East Pakistan. By 23rd November, Ghazi had gone more than 2,200 nautical miles from Karachi to reach to watch range code-named Zone Mike in Madras.


The Indian Forces received intelligence about this advancement and immediately informed the Eastern Naval Command. The Vice-naval commander had been requested that INS Vikrant was to prevent the troops in East Pakistan from getting any maritime help from the Pakistan Navy. However, due to some technical problems, the INS Vikrant’s pace had reduced to a mere 16 ties and making it impossible for it to thwart any imminent attacks.


Vice Admiral Krishnan was aware of this difficulty and had to make a strategy to shield their otherwise defenceless vessel. The subsequent plan he came up with was ingenious and would set a staggering record in naval history for years to come.


He summoned the captain of the maturing INS Rajput, Lt-Commander Inder Singh. His ship was at the time being sent to Vizag to be decommissioned. That is until Vice Admiral Krishnan gave him a monumental task. He instructed Singh to cruise 160 miles out of Vizag harbour and create substantial remote movement, which would give foe submarine a feeling that INS Vikrant, its prime goal, was in the close region. To confuse the enemy further, he requested an enormous amount of meat and vegetables. He then ordered INS Vikrant and her escorts to cruise into ‘X-Ray’, a mystery palm-fronded safe haven in the Andaman Islands, almost 1,000 miles away.


Pakistani fell for the trap and prepared to dispatch Ghazi against INS Vikrant. In the late hours of 3rd December, reports indicated an inward blast occurred in the forward area of the Ghazi where torpedoes and mines were kept. Subsequently, Ghazi, one of Pakistan’s greatest weapons sank, inflicting no damage on the Indian vessel.


For his remarkable strategy, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan. Admiral Krishnan retired from the Indian Navy in 1976. He met his natural death in January 1982. His bravery and intelligence are remembered. His legacy lives on in our hearts and his brave actions are remembered as one of the most inspiring stories for years to come.

  • For his memorable strategy which inevitably saved the INS Vikrant, Vice Admiral Krishnan was awarded the famous Padma Bhushan.
  • He was one of the only two Indians who were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. He received the award in 1942 for “courage, enterprise and devotion to duty in operations in the Persian Gulf”
  • He also received the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) which is awarded in recognition of peace-time service of the most exceptional order.

  • Vice Admiral Krishnan’s famous quote: “If you cut open my chest, embedded in my heart you will see four letters in bold: NAVY.”

Vice Admiral Krishnan wrote an autobiography, titled ‘A Sailor’ Story’, which was edited by Arjun Krishnan. The summary for the book is given below:

Vice Admiral Nilakanta Krishnan (1919 to 1982) was one of the most decorated officers in the Indian Armed Forces. After 40 years of distinguished service in the Indian Navy, 17 medals adorned his broad shoulders, including the Padma Bhushan and the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry in World War II. Known as the Sailors Admiral, his dedication to his beloved Navy was surpassed only by his love for his Country. Flamboyant, charismatic, and a dynamic leader of men, this is his story, one that is inextricably linked to the story of India and India s Navy. In his own words, he tells of his experiences spanning some of India s most tumultuous times, from pre independence to post independent modern India, including his part in building India s Navy and culminating in his pivotal role in one of India s greatest military triumphs, the 1971 war resulting in the liberation of Bangladesh from Pakistan. His life was a fascinating one, which most people would only dream about. He rubbed shoulders with royalty, presidents, prime ministers, politicians, military brass, war heroes, extraordinary and ordinary people in the course of his life. Every encounter has a fascinating tale behind it, from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, V.V. Giri, Ace fighter pilot Guy Gibson of second world war dambusters fame, Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother, Lord Mountbatten of Burma, Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding of Battle of Britain fame, Russian Grand Admiral Gorshkov, to even a mafia Don and his moll in downtown San Francisco. Each story is part of the tapestry that made his life s story so interesting. Sit back and enjoy the voyage of the life of a great Indian military hero and patriot, who often said – If you cut open my chest, embedded in my heart you will see four letters in bold: NAVY.

He also wrote a book, ‘No way But Surrender’, which is an account of the Indo-Pakistani War in the Bay of Bengal.

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    2019 at 11:29 pm Reply


    • Pathi Jagga reddy

      2022 at 12:16 pm

      Herioc person changing the scenirio of war in water is not s easy job destroying just on the gates of vidhkspstnsm pskidthan submsrine saved the city of vidhkakapstnam from the fire power monster pak ghazi Bharath matha ki jai

  • Ashim Baran Chowdhury

    2020 at 1:04 pm Reply

    Salute Admiral Krishnan. You deserve a big applause and take my salam.

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