By Kapil Chandni, BR Correspondent
All images © Indian Navy via Kapil Chandni
The author wishes to thank the Indian Navy and Mazagaon Dock Limited for help in preparing this feature.
On the eve of Navy Week, last year, then incumbent Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Western Naval Command, Vice Admiral Vinod Pasricha chose to have his media briefing in Mumbai harbour on board the eponymous and indigenously-built ship. INS Mumbai at the time had just returned along with the rest of the fleet from a long, interesting deployment in the North Arabian Sea during Operation Parakram.
Along with her sister ships, INS Delhi and INS Mysore, she played a critical command & control role out at sea, during the Western Fleet's longest deployment at sea. Ever since commissioning, the Delhi Class of ships have managed to wow navies the world over. They have been regular participants at international maritime gatherings and have shown off India's high technology capabilities to the best. Coupled with the Indian Navy's dedication and professionalism, this has generated tremendous goodwill and respect internationally for the Indian Navy.
The Crest of INS Mumbai
The ship's crest depicts the main gateway entrance to the Bombay Castle Barracks, which was built in 1548 and after a long and chequered history, commissioned in 1951 as INS Angre in honour of the great Maratha Admiral Kanhoji Angre. The castle gateway depicted on the crest has a watch tower with three look-out posts and stands against the backdrop of the ramparts of the fort.
Two typical fast galleys, the Ghurabs, depicted on either side of the fort signify the glorious seafaring and maritime traditions of the great Marathas (the first warship 'Bombay' was also built to a Ghurab design at the Bombay Dockyard in 1739). The waves at the foot of the crest and the light blue background together depict the blue waters on which the ship, Mumbai will sail under a serene blue sky. The Sanskrit motto, which means, "I am Invincible, signifies the indomitable spirit of INS Mumbai."
The Erstwhile BOMBAYs
It is said that old ships never die; their souls live on to awaken in a new avatar. Of the fifteen Bombays preceding the present one, nine were warships. The tenth warship Mumbai rightfully christened after the economic nerve centre of India, heralds the latest re-incarnation of that indomitable spirit. It is perhaps ironic that the first warship Bombay was built to the design of a captured Maratha Ghurab and put to use by the British East India Company against the Marathas themselves (the Ghurab design was anglicized by the British as the 'Grab' class).
History repeated itself in that the first warship Bombay was commissioned by the then Governor of Bombay in 1739, while 262 years later, the Governor of Maharashtra, His Excellency Dr. P C Alexander, commissioned the Mumbai on 22 January 2001. Though the ninth warship Bombay was built in Sydney, and the fourth was built in Deptford, there were ten Bombays (eight of them combatants) built in the Bombay Dockyard. A befitting continuum therefore that the tenth warship of the same lineage, the Mumbai has also been built in Mumbai itself, to an indigenous design, by the Mazagaon Dock Limited.
YEARS IN SERVICE
CLASS OF VESSEL
Ordered in 1716, to the design of a Maratha Ghurab, captured by the British in 1706. Built of Malabar Teak at the Bombay Dockyard under Lowjee Nusserwanjee Wadia, and manned by 4 officers and 60 seamen, this 90-footer, 24-gun ship, the East India Company's HCS Bombay was the second largest in the Bombay Marine.
Served the Bengal Pilot Service, reportedly in a non-combatant role, concurrently with the earlier Bombay.
A 32-gun, 363-tonne, 90-footer vessel, which conjointly served with the earlier Bombay vessels.
Ordered in 1789 from the Bombay Dockyard, this 38-gun, 639-tonne ship served as HCS Bombay till 1805, and thereafter in the Royal Navy as HMS Bombay from 1805 to 1808 and as HMS Ceylon thereafter.
This 74-gun Leviathan class frigate, was the second HMS Bombay. She was built at Deptford, and not at the Bombay Dockyard. She was paid off at Portsmouth in 1816. She continued serving in a non-combatant role for many more years.
Though primarily just a trader on the China service, this 26-gun, 1228-ton sailing vessel saw action in the Malacca Straits in 1810. She ended her glorious career in Bombay in 1870.
Unfortunately, little is known about this gunboat, except for the fact that the company men did not mind more than one ship of the same name in operation at the same time.
The third HMS Bombay, this 185-footer, 84-gun frigate of the Royal Navy had three masts and displaced 2285 tonnes. Built at the Bombay Dockyard, with a crew of 575 including officers. Reduced to 70 guns after five years of service. She was lengthened and fitted with a propeller in 1860-62. She suffered a fatal accidental fire 14 miles off Montevideo, Uruguay in 1864.
This 62-tonne schooner had a nondescript history as she was of relatively small size and utilized for coastal trade.
This 94-tonne, 110-footer light vessel marked the outer limits of the Bombay Harbour for many years.
|WW I & WW II||TRAWLER/APV|
A Grimsby trawler, the Bombay was hired by the Royal Navy from 1915 to 1919 and once again during 1939 to 1940, to serve as a non-commissioned, un-armed Auxiliary Patrol Vessel. Not considered a warship for the purpose of lineage.
The first HMIS Bombay was 125 feet in length and had a beam of 24 feet. Though actually just a composite steam trawler, she was classified as a minesweeper as well as a patrol vessel.
|1942-1960||BATHURST CLASS FLEET MINESWEEPER|
This 733 tonne vessel was the second HMIS Bombay and the first INS Bombay. Ordered in January 1941, laid down in July 1941, launched on 06 December 1941 and completed on 24 April 1942. HMIS Bombay was attached to the 38th Minesweeping Flotilla of the Royal Indian Navy (RIN). Initially based at Sydney, Australia and later in India, she earned a name escorting troop convoys between the Persian Gulf and Bombay/Karachi, as well as between Madras and Chittagong. In April 1945, she was attached to the 37th Minesweeping Flotilla and played a significant role in Operation Dracula, the assault on Rangoon, Burma. She became INS Bombay on 26 January 1950. Thereafter, served in the 31st Minesweeping Squadron from 1947 to 1960. Her hull was sold in 1961 and broken up in 1962.
Note 1: Records also indicate the presence of at least two previous Bombays, both British. Rhe first, a 370-ton ship sailed five voyages for the British East India Company between 1668 and 1676. The second, of unknown ownership, was sunk in 1730 (under Admiral Sakhoji) off Kolaba, an island 5 miles from the Khanderi Island. This is the reason for INS Mumbai being considered as the sixteenth Bombay.
Note 2: Mumbai was conceived, laid down, launched and fitted out to be INS Bombay. Her name was subsequently changed in keeping with the changed name of the city, Mumbai.