INS Chatak, an OSA class missile boat, de-commissioned from Naval service on May 2003 was installed at the naval base parade ground and inaugurated as ‘Chatak Memorial’ by Admiral Sureesh Mehta, Chief of Naval Staff. The Memorial will not only be a source of inspiration for the young officers and sailors who come to Kochi for their training but will also be opened to civilian visitors.
The Navy acquired INS Chatak from the erstwhile Soviet Union and the ship was commissioned at Kolkata on February 9, 1977. The ship was capable of speeds in excess of 35 knots. Armed with four ‘P-15-U’ surface-to-surface missiles and two 30-mm anti-aircraft guns, capable of firing 4000 rounds per minute, this small ship was a potent threat and played an important role in the protection of India’s maritime interests.
INS Chatak had a glorious innings in Indian Navy, intially for 13 years on the western coast spearheading the 25th Killer Squadron and later, on the eastern coast with the local flotilla at Visakhapatnam. In an operational career spanning 26 eventful years, the ship fired a total of 14 missiles. In recognition of her role and performance, she was awarded the ‘Unit Citation’ by the Chief of the Naval Staff in 2000.
The Greater Cochin Development Authority (GCDA) proposed to set up a warship museum off the marine drive and requested the Navy for providing a small warship. Accordingly, Chatak was brought to Kochi after decommissioning, and offered to the GCDA. Since the proposed plan of GCDA could not be implemented, the Southern Naval Command decided to resurrect the ship on the parade ground as a memorial.
M/s Western Marine Engineers, Kochi, undertook the job of hauling up the ship on to parade ground with NSRY providing the necessary support. The weight of the ship was reduced to 150 tons by removing all major equipment on board including the engines, missile containers, guns and the propeller. The entire operation was executed in three phases.
The subsequent beautification and outer peripheral work of the memorial was undertaken by Military Engineer Services. A plaque with various statistics of the ship engraved on black granite was unveiled by Admiral Sureesh Mehta to mark the inauguration of this memorial. Appropriate lighting highlights the profile of the ship as well as the plaque. The complete task was accomplished in a record time of three months. It was evolution, a first time for most of the people involved, which will be remembered in the years to come.
-Capt M Nambiar
INS Rana and Ranjit, under the command of Capt LV Sarat Babu and Capt DM Sudan respectively, visited Qingdao during the course of the overseas deployment to the North Pacific Region. The ships’ visit to Qingdao, China coincided with the concurrent visit of INS Mysore, Jyoti and Kuthar, under the operational command of Rear Admiral Ravinder Kumar Dhowan, to Yokosuka, Japan.
On arrival at Qingdao harbour, the ships were welcomed by Mrs Nirupama Rao, Ambassador of India to China, Vice Admiral RP Suthan, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff and Rear Admiral Su Shiliang, Commander North Sea Fleet (NSF) of PLA Navy. A First Day postal cover commemorating the first visit of Indian ships to Qingdao was also released on this occasion.
During the welcome address, Rear Admiral Su Shiliang and Mrs Nirupama Rao highlighted the strategic significance of India-China relations. The two Navies’ role in the expanding military/diplomatic ties as well as ‘Building Bridges of Freindship’ between India and China was clearly evident during the ships’ stay in Qingdao. A reception was hosted for the PLA Navy officers and Defence Attaches of Australia, South Korea, Germany, Brazil, Japan, France and the US on board Rana.
Concurrently, the ships were opened for visitors. Prominent amongst those who visited the ship included the small but reassured members of the Indian business community in Qingdao. The response of the local residents was overwhelming. The enthusiasm and genuine happiness of these people helped breach the strong language barrier. Further consolidating on the ‘Bridges of Friendship’ construct, a band concert by the Indian Naval Band was conducted at the ‘May 4th Square’.
The ships departed Qingdao on April 16 and were led out of harbour by PLA Navy ship Qingdao. During the passage, the ships undertook basic communication and manoeuvring exercises. The Passex concluded with a steampast wherein Indian and PLA Navy personnel manned the respective ship sides.