The kids playing hide & seek, or lovers getting a corner, or beggars’ resting adobe, around the rusted INS KALVARI fin do not know the tales of pain and denial that her operators at high seas have undergone. Ask any veteran submariner from Indian Navy and one can see what price the nation has paid to rise up to the standards to match any blue water Navy as on date. The final resting place of the valiant hero of deep seas is the fin of INS Kalvari that graces Vizag.
The first hero of Indian Navy Submarine Arm: The 8th of July 1968 is a historic day in the history of Indian Defense Forces. An inchoate nation was on her way to build up her foundation of integrity for which strengthening of armed forces was high on agenda. The international community was reviving from the devastation of World War II and introduced to the rest of the world several new but deadly warfare tactics. In such a scenario on that day India secured its sovereignty with new but potent sentinel of its autonomy with establishment of the submarine Arm of Indian Navy with commissioning of its first submarine Kalvari, a Foxtrot class underwater stealth killer.
With hostilities looming large post independence, Indian Navy had instant urgency to equip itself with state-of-the-art stealth killers. The Indian Navy initially developed on the British Royal Navy model and evolved as a surface navy minus an underwater complement. India obtained its first submarine, the INS Kalvari — a Russian Foxtrot class Vessel in 1968 — only after Indonesia and Pakistan introduced the submarine into the Indian Ocean region in 1964 and 1965 respectively.
Kalvari comes to Vizag:
After serving for 28 years Kalvari was decommissioned on May 31 1996. However the glorious SUB’s fin was placed on display at the Dutch Bungalow at RK beach road in the city as a part of Visakha Musuem. Efforts were made to preserve the submarine as a museum, however time took its toll and the submarine had to be scrapped. The coning tower was recovered and displayed as a monument outside the Vizag city museum.
Soon the remnant of a comatose creature became the center of attraction for the tourists as well as the local passerby. With the sunset the monument used to look like a shining star with its navigational lights being switched on. On February 8, 2005 a periscope was fixed on the fin of the submarine Kalvari, and soon was opened for visitors to have a Periscopic look of Bay of Bengal by just paying one rupee during the day time.
Dimmed shine of the Hero:
Irony to Kalvari’s fate came when the submarine Kursura, which was installed on RK beach was exhibited as Submarine Museum and earned the fortune of Asia’s first and whole World’s second submarine museum. There she INS Kalvari, over shadowed by the glamour of Kursura, and today it is in a completely derelict state.
Indian Navy veterans and veteran submarines:
With nature taking toll on the remnants of the fine sentinel, the dilapidated state of the monument is a live example of how and what we feel about the guardians of our integrity. The unit that earned laurels in missions abroad, represented the nations underwater defense capabilities for 28 years and above all established India’s unquestionable deterrence in the Indian ocean. It is today at the mercy of Vizag sultry breeze and nocturnal anti-socials. Pass by it post midnight to find groups of addicts smoking under cover by the fin. Today when war veterans have to go to the extent to return their decorations to push forward the appeal for better pensions maybe it’s the best that she can expect for herself. Needless to say that today’s youth has left the instinct of nationalism to be patented for men in uniform. Let us not forget that it takes a lot to create history but if the lessons are not learnt & taught well result in new geographies: with national boundaries redrawn every time integrity is compromised.