Visakhapatnam: The sinking of the Pakistani submarine Ghazi off the Vizag coast in December 1971 during the Indo-Pak war has now become the subject of a Tollywood movie but the mystery behind the incident still endures.
While there are different theories around the Ghazi’s sinking on the intervening night of December 3 and 4, the Indian Navy says that the submarine was hit and sunk by the destroyer INS Rajput. The Pakistan Navy claims an accidental internal explosion led to the sinking of the submarine.
The author of ‘Blue Fish’, Sankalp Reddy. is busy with the pre-production work and Rana Daggupati is said to be the lead actor in the upcoming movie.
Many old timers who were around the spot where the submarine sank said there was no activity by the Indian Navy at that time.
Mr Nannapaneni Venkateswarlu, captain of fishing vessel MT Suneeta Rani was operating off the Vizag coast at that time. “I heard a deafening sound but I was not sure what exactly happened. I am certain that there were no Indian Navy vessels around. Only once, three days before the explosion, I saw the INS Rajput passing by. Later I came to know the Pak submarine Ghazi had exploded. God saved Vizag from a Pakistani attack,” Mr Venkateswarlu said.
According to the Indian Navy, Pakistan was fed with wrong intelligence that the Ghazi’s target, the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, was at Vizag when it was actually somewhere near the Andamans. The destroyer INS Rajput was acting as a decoy for the Vikrant. Rajput released the depth charges which blew up the Ghazi.
“The depth charge could have led to the hydraulic hammer situation on board the Ghazi and let seawater into the sub. The seawater intrusion might have led to the short circuit resulting in the explosion,” veteran submariner Cmde P. R. Franklin (Retd), who has written ‘Foxtrots of the Indian Navy’ told this correspondent.
Cmde Arun Kumar (Retd), veteran submariner and former executive officer on the nuclear submarine INS Chakra, attributed the demise of the Ghazi to a ruse of the Eastern Naval Command.
“They generated a vast amount of signal traffic on behalf of the ship (INS Vikrant) and with the command indicating that the ship was operating from Vizag whereas in fact it was doing so off Port Blair and was moved up only after the hostilities broke out,” he said.
“The Ghazi commander accordingly positioned himself outside Vizag harbour to lie in wait for the carrier to leave the harbour. Instead it met its grave there,” he said.
Cmde Kumar explained that Ships in actual hostilities while leaving harbour leave through a swept channel (of mines) and on leaving it drop depth charges routinely to deter a lurking sub. In this case it seems that during leaving harbour INS Rajput did the same and the depth charges found Ghazi sending her to the bottom.”
Mr Joseph P. Chacko, defence analyst and author of the book ‘Foxtrot to Arihant— The Story of Indian Navy’s Submarine Arm’, said, “The PNS Ghazi sinking has multiple theories. It ranges from internal explosion to accidental sinking by the Indian Navy. There are some weird ones too."
What is important is that the Ghazi sank early in the war. The plan to send the Ghazi to hoping to sink the aircraft carrier was audacious. Had it succeeded, it would have been a very demoralizing factor for the Indian Navy.
Ghazi sleeps off Visakhapatnam
The mystery of Ghazi lies embedded in the Vizag seabed, close to the harbour channel around 1.5 nautical miles from the breakwaters. The spot is marked on navigational maps for the vessels to avoid the wreck.
An attempt was made in 2003 by the Eastern Naval Command to check the condition of the debris and images of Ghazi were taken with underwater cameras. The debris lies at the 17 degrees 41 North and 83 degrees 20.6 East around 1.5 nautical miles from the harbour breakwaters.
A team of 10 divers of the Eastern Naval Command were deployed to examine the debris on Dec. 10, 2003. Ghazi’s hull was covered with thousands of fishing nets.
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