Admiral S N Kohli
Padma Bhushan, PVSM
CNS, 28 Feb 1973 - 29 Feb 1976
Admiral Sourendra Nath Kohli assumed charge of the Indian Navy, as the 7th Chief of Naval Staff, on 28 February 1973. Prior to this appointment, he was was the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Naval Command, the largest command in the Indian Navy.
Born on 21 June 1916, Admiral Kohli was educated at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi. He then joined the Royal Indian Navy as a cadet in May 1936 and proceeded to the United Kingdom for training. Two years later he was commissioned as a Sub Lieutenant into the Royal Indian Navy on 25 June 1938. He qualified as a Communication Specialist in the United Kingdom in 1943. During the Second World War, Admiral Kohli saw action in the Persian Gulf and also in the Far Eastern theatre.After Independence, Admiral Kohli was one of those specially chosen to head the expanding Indian fleet. He was deputed to the United Kingdom in December 1948 in connection with acquisition of destroyers and was appointed as the Commanding Officer of INS Rana, an Admiralty Class destroyer, when the ship was taken over from Royal Navy. Among the important appointments held by him since then are the senior officer of INS Godavari, a Hunt Class escort frigate and later the Commanding Officer of INS Mysore, a Crown Colony/Fiji Class cruiser.
On his appointment as the superintendent of the Naval Dockyard at Bombay he was promoted to the rank of Commodore. Admiral Kohli has served in a number of staff appointments in addition to seagoing commands and has the distinction of having been twice Director of Naval Plans. He has been the Naval Adviser in the UK and has served as Principal Staff Officer in Naval HQ, first as the Chief of Material and then as the Vice Chief of the Naval Staff (VCNS). He rose to Flag rank in August 1965 and as Rear Admiral, he commanded the Indian Fleet from 1967 to 1969, spearheaded by the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. He was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) for exceptional and distinguished service in January 1968.
Prior to taking over as the FOC-in-C of the Western Naval Command in Bombay, on 12 February 1971, Admiral Kohli was, for two years, the Commandant of the National Defence College, which is the highest seat of learning in the politico-military field of our country. During the 1971 Indo-Pak War, Admiral Kohli was responsible not only for all naval operations in the North Arabian Sea but also entrusted with the defence of our coastline from the borders with Pakistan to Goa.
In addition, he was the controlling authority for the safe routing of the entire Indian mercantile fleet. The Western Fleet under his intrepid and imaginative leadership was instrumental in delivering crippling blows on the Pakistan Navy. The daring raids on Karachi have passed into the annals of naval warfare as a master stroke of offensive policy. After the war, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan for "Demonstrating exceptional ability, sagacity and fortitude in putting into effect the several plans for the defence of our harbours and coastline."