The First Destroyer

The highlight of the Navy’s operational calendar in 1949 was the arrival of the first two destroyers, HMPS Tippu Sultan, ex-Onslow and HMPS Tariq, ex-Offa. During World War II, Onslow took part in the action which took place when the German Raider Hipper attacked the Allied Convoy PQ 17 and Captain Sherbrooke, who was the Escort Force Commander in Onslow, was awarded the Victoria Cross. The Commander of the Surface Force which provided cover to PQ 17 was Admiral Burnett who, as Admiral Sir Robert Burnett, KCB. KBE. DSO, Commander-in-Chief, handed over HMS Offa to the RPN in Plymouth.

Tippu Sultan was commissioned on 30 September, 1949 and placed under the command of Commander PS Evans, an experienced officer of the Royal Navy whose services had been loaned to the RPN. Lt Cdr Syed Mohammad Ahsan, DSC, who later rose to be the Commander-in-Chief of the RPN, was assigned as its First Lieutenant. Tariq on transfer to the RPN was commanded by Lt Cdr Afzal (Akram) Rahman Khan, who had the distinction of being the second Pakistani Commander-in-Chief of the RPN. Lt Cdr Wazir Gul became the First Lieutenant of Tariq. Prior to their departure from the UK, the two ships were formed into the 25th Destroyer Flotilla.

The arrival of the destroyers in Pakistani waters was a landmark in the history of the RPN and a tremendous welcome awaited them off Karachi. They were met at sea by the Hon Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan and Rear Admiral Jefford, in addition to a large party of ministers, senior Defense Ministry officials and officers of the three Services who went out in Zulfiqar. Large crowds had gathered on East Wharf and they cheered the destroyers arrival with full-throated slogans of ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ and ‘Pakistan Navy Zindabad’. For Admiral Jefford it was a particularly joyous day, while greeting the arrival of the 25th Destroyer Flotilla, the Prime Minister told him that the Government had accorded approval for the purchase of a third destroyer.

The following extracts from the Admiralty files pertaining to the transfer of Onslow and Offa are of special interest to Pakistan:

“These two ships are the first to be acquired by Pakistan since the partition of India and will, it is hoped, be the forerunners of an expanding Royal Pakistan Navy. When HMS Achilles was transferred to the Royal Indian Navy in 1948 the First Lord agreed to undertake the handing over of the ship. Actually, owing to unforeseen circumstances, the ceremony was performed by the Commander-in-Chief, Nore, the Board of Admiralty being represented by the Second Sea Lord, the Secretary and Deputy Secretary. Although the Achilles (now HMIS Delhi) is a cruiser the circumstances of the transfer of the destroyers to the Royal Pakistan Navy are comparable with the transfer of the Achilles to the Royal Indian Navy, in that, in both instances they constitute the first vessels to be acquired from the Royal Navy by the New Dominions since partition.

As the policy of HM Government, is that both New Dominions should be treated in like manner, it is considered that it would be politically desirable that on the occasion of the transfer of the first destroyer to the Royal Pakistan Navy the Board should be represented at the ceremony. It is for consideration that the First Lord might undertake the actual handing over of the ship, although, if the Indian precedent was strictly followed, the Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth, should perform the ceremony, with Board representation. It is understood that the destroyers will be received on behalf of the Pakistan Government by the High Commissioner for Pakistan and that his wife will perform the renaming ceremony. The Under Secretary stated that the Indian Government was well aware that it was the First Lord’s intention to have carried out the corresponding ceremony for HMIS Delhi if he had been able to do so, and they could not have any legitimate complaint, if he carries out the corresponding ceremony for the first destroyer to be handed over to Pakistan. The First Lord wrote, ‘Concur with Sec.”‘

Several members of the Board went down by the midnight (sleeper) train from Paddington to Plymouth. The following morning, 30 September, they had breakfast in Admiralty House before going to the Dockyard for the ceremony. It was a cloudy morning and the programme commenced at 1030. HMS Onslow was handed over by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Viscount Hall of Cynon Valley, P.C., accepted by the High Commissioner for Pakistan Mr. H I Rahimtoola as HMPS Tippu Sultan. The following members of the Board were present:

Admiral Sir Cecil Harcourt KCB,CBE Second Sea Lord
Sir John G Lang KCB Permanent Secretary

The advent of the decade of the 50s saw plans for further consolidation of the RPN Fleet and the shore facilities assuming a tangible shape. The decade was also to mark the nationalization of a number of senior appointments in the Service and augmentation of the docking, refit and logistic facilities within Pakistan. Efforts were vigorously pursued to integrate East Pakistan fully into the development plan for the RPN and create opportunities for people belonging to the East wing to participate in the build-up of the Navy.

The year 1950 began with changes in certain key assignments in NHQ. As part of the nationalization programme, on 1 January, Commander Khalid Jamil assumed the duties of Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Personnel) while Commodore HMS Choudri departed for the UK to attend a course of study at the Imperial Defence College. In the latter’s absence the position of Chief of Staff remained vacant mainly because no other Pakistani officer with sufficient seniority and experience was available at the time, nor was it considered desirable to appoint a British officer as Chief of Staff so as not to digress from the policy of maintaining the national character of the higher posts in the Service.

In Commodore Choudri’s absence, most of the responsibilities of Chief of Staff were taken over by Rear Admiral Jefford himself who was then redesignated as FOC, RPN and Chief of the Naval Staff. To assist him Commander M. A. Alavi was appointed as Deputy Chief of Staff and the position of Staff Officer (Operations) was also created. The Directors and Assistant Directors were re-designated as Deputy Chiefs of Naval Staff and Assistant Chiefs of Naval Staff respectively.

With the construction of five Nissen Huts in Fowler Lines (at a cost of Rs 77,000 each) NHQ which was previously spread over three different locations was beginning to become centralized at one site. For sometime the offices of FOC, RPN, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations) and Judge Advocate of the Fleet continued to function in West Wharf while the Nissen Huts in Fowler Lines accommodated the offices of Deputy Chiefs of Naval Staff for Personnel and Material as well as Director, Medical Services of the RPN and the Naval Secretary. This seemed most appropriate from the functional point of view. At the time plans for combining the Ministry of Defense and NHQ in a location in Karachi were also in an advanced stage.

The year also saw the first phase of the RPN Dockyard make substantial progress. Contracts for the civil works were finalized and assigned by mid-February 1950 and work commenced before the end of March. The Ministry of Finance had also sanctioned. In principle, the construction of a commercial dry dock in Karachi. Tenders for the supply of machinery for the RPN Dockyard were being processed and preliminary work was scheduled for May while excavation was expected to commence in August. With the sanction for a commercial dry dock some changes were necessitated in the contract forms which delayed commencement of work until December.

A high point of the RPN’s activities in the first quarter was the visit to Pakistan of His Imperial Majesty the Shah of Iran from 1 to 16 March. The programme included visits to some ships and establishments. In the forenoon the Shah accompanied by Mr Liaquat Ali Khan paid a visit to the Boys’ Training Establishment, Bahadur (Cdr R Sharp RAN) located in the southern part of Manora. A ceremonial parade was held in the Shah’s honor. This was followed by a banquet in Himalaya (Captain C. D. Maud). A special invitation card was printed for the occasion which bore a crest at the top consisting of the Admiral’s flag and the Pakistan flag. The function was essentially a naval affair and the number of outside invitees was kept to the minimum. Among the 60 odd guests were the Governor-General Khawaja Nazimuddin, the Prime Minister Mr Liaquat Ali Khan and the Defense Secretary. Colonel Iskander Mirza.

In the afternoon the Royal visitor paid a visit to the destroyers Tippu Sultan (Cdr P. S. Evans) and Tariq (Lt Cdr A. R. Khan) and the flagship Jhelum (Cdr M. Harris). The units of the fleet were dressed overall for the day. This was the first occasion the RPN was honored by the presence of a Royal dignitary.

While recounting the notable events of 1950, special mention must be made of the survey of the Pussur river in East Pakistan in quest of a seaward channel to the port of Chalna, and a special campaign by the Navy to enlist large numbers of Bengalis who suffered from a sense of discrimination in the matter of recruitment to the Defense Services. Other notable developments were the institution of a system of competitive examinations for selection of Normal Entry Cadets, the induction of a scheme for Special Entry Cadets, and progress on the civil works of the RPN Dockyard and the Mechanical Training Establishment, HMPS Karsaz, at the site on Drigh Road (now Shahra-e-Faisal).

After being fitted with survey boat davits in Karachi, Zulfiqar (Cdr C. G. Little DSC) sailed for East Pakistan in February. The voyage was rewarded with success when the RPN eventually found a suitable approach channel for seagoing ships into Pussur and thus enabled the port of Chalna 45 miles up the river to be established. The port was to be of lasting economic and commercial value and the RPN’s contribution was never to be forgotten.

Jhelum (Cdr M. Harris) steamed into the approaches to the Pussur River where she rendezvoused with Zulfiqar at the anchorage in the entrance. The following morning the C-in-C shifted his flag to Zulfiqar and sailed some 60 miles up the newly surveyed channel to Chalna anchorage. During the passage up and down the river he examined both the seaward approach charts and those of the river which had been drawn up by Zulfiqar and the Central Engineering Authority respectively. He decided that at last the site for a suitable riverine port had been found which could take some of the load off Chittagong.

All that was needed to start the port working were moorings for the anchorage at Chalna, light buoys and other navigational buoys, marks for the river and approach channels and a lightship at the seaward end of the approach channel to act as a “landfall” for ships making their way into Pussur river. Temporary Customs and other port facilities could be established straight away by using some of the large river flats which could be moved from other stations in the Sunderbans.

The Admiral felt that if the relevant departments of the Government worked together with a sense of real urgency, the first merchant ship could be received in Chalna anchorage within a short time. Aware of the Governor-General Khawaja Nazimuddin’s commitment to the development of port facilities in East Pakistan, Admiral Jefford signaled a personal message requesting him to use his influence to get things going without too much red-tape. The Governor-General’s response was immediate and positive, with the result that by the time the C-in-C returned to Karachi at the end of May he was delighted to find that action on most of his suggestions was well in hand.

The Commerce Ministry had agreed to release the ‘Sindhi’ light vessel to be used in the approaches to the Pussur river while the Communications Ministry had arranged for the KPT to send first class swinging moorings to Chalna and to release one of its senior and experienced pilots, Mr. ESB Bhombal, to serve as Port Officer and Conservator at Chalna. Mr. Bhombal and his team worked virtually round the clock and Chalna was able to receive the first merchant ship on 11 December, 1950. Jhelum and Zulfiqar rendezvoused with the destroyers Tippu Sultan and Tariq and proceeded to Chittagong. Ashore in Chittagong, Admiral Jefford was presented an address of welcome on behalf of the citizens of the port city, making a plea for increased representation for Bengalis in the Navy. The Admiral took the opportunity to welcome the East Pakistanis with enthusiasm and said that he would be happy to enlist as many Bengalis in the navy as he could get provided they came up to the required educational and physical standards.

He however, recalled that in 1949 a naval recruiting party had been sent to East Pakistan in the hope of obtaining some 500 recruits. There was no lack of interest and about 2000 candidates turned up at the recruiting centre; however, only 396 of them qualified in the educational tests and of them again 115 had to be dropped as they did not come up to the medical standards of the Service. This was disappointing enough, but of the remainder, 33 either backed out or were withdrawn by their parents before they could embark for Karachi for training. Out of the 2000 prospective recruits who turned up in response to the Navy’s recruitment drive, thus only 248 eventually enlisted. Many of the local dignitaries who attended the reception in honor of the Naval C-in-C promised to do all they could to improve the state of affairs.

From Chittagong the destroyers sailed for Singapore on 23 April for docking. Jhelum and Zulfiqar also departed 5 days later for Singapore where Admiral Jefford had detailed discussions with the C-in-C Far East, Admiral Sir John Brind, and the Flag Officer Malaya, Rear Admiral H. W. Faulkner. It was clear that as long as the Korean war lasted. RPN ships would not be able to refit in Singapore and the alternative would have to be Malta. The RPN ships however received a most warm welcome from the Pakistani community of Singapore as this was the first visit to the Island State.

Jhelum sailed for Penang on 5 May and there again the Muslim community received the Pakistani ship and personnel with tremendous enthusiasm. Indeed, the Pakistan flag was seen to be fluttering from many a rooftop. To commemorate the visit, the Pakistani community of Penang and Wellesley Island donated a shield which, with the approval of the donors, became the Efficiency Shield of the fleet in the decades to come. Jhelum returned to Karachi via Trincomalee on 24 May, while Tippu Sultan and Tariq on completion of their self-refit sailed on their homeward journey on 18 June. Jhelum proceeded to Malta on 11 June for a dockyard refit while Sind arrived at Karachi on 13 August after her long refit in Southampton. On her way home, the ship paid visits to ports in Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Tunisia and carried out a three-week workup programme with the Royal Navy’s Mediterranean Fleet. The survey ship Zulfiqar completed her refit in Singapore and returned to Karachi on 31 July. A party from the ship proceeded to Murree where it was engaged in drawing up the final charts of the approaches to the Pussur River and completion of tidal data and other related information.

The plans for the Naval Armament Stores Depot also received a fillip in 1950. During the first half of the year, 15 sheds suitably sited and transversed for the storage of explosives, were taken over from the Army’s central ammunition depot in Malir Cantonment, 35 kilometres north of Karachi. The sheds had a total storage capacity of 5000 tonnes. Essential examination of the explosives and some repair work was carried out under makeshift conditions in tents while a plan was drawn up for the construction of a full-fledged explosive laboratory. There was a certain amount of risk in the work being carried out in the open with the monsoon a few days away. However, this was typical of the improvised arrangements under which the RPN had to function in the early years.

Force 92 consisting of the destroyers and the frigates Jhelum and Sind was reconstituted on 8 September and sailed for Aden. The C-in-C flew his flag in Tippu Sultan commanded by Commander A. R. Khan and his place in Tariq was taken by Commander S. M. Ahsan, DSC. In Aden, the Force participated in the first Efficiency Shield competition when Jhelum was adjudged the winner. At the end of the competition, Admiral Jefford shifted his flag to Jhelum while Tippu Sultan proceeded to Malta and Sind commenced a goodwill visit to Jeddah. Jhelum, with Tariq in company, returned home on 23 September.

The question of recruitment and training of officers for the RPN was now receiving maximum attention to provide for expansion of the Service. There were two Cadet Entry Schemes at the time, one for Normal Entry and the other for Special Entry. Six competitive examinations for the selection of Normal Entry Cadets were held during the period June 1946 to June 1950. The first three examinations were conducted by the Federal Public Service Commission, while the RPN recruiting organization itself handled the rest. The results of the competitions were below expectation and only twenty-two were recruited in the period of four years. Of them twelve were assigned to the Executive branch, six to the Engineering branch and four to Supply and Secretariat.

The Normal Entry Cadets were sent to the UK for training, but five of them had to be withdrawn because of their failure to make satisfactory progress. Three were discharged from Service while two continued their training in Pakistan under the Special Entry Scheme. In the intervening period, three more competitive examinations had been held for selection of Special Entry Cadets, one in October 1949 and two in March and June of 1950. The results again were much below expectation and only a total of fourteen Cadets could qualify for training. Six were assigned to the Executive branch and eight to the Supply and Secretariat branch. Their performance during training in Himalaya however, was very poor, with the result that as many as seven of them had to be discharged as they failed to make acceptable progress.

Instructor Lt. Feroz Shah had in the meantime visited England and had the occasion to visit the Pakistani Normal Entry Cadets under training there. On returning he submitted a report expressing the view that the cadets there were making better progress than the Special Entry Cadets under training in Himalaya. DCNS(P) however, suggested that the cadets who had been sent back from UK deserved to be given a further chance, in view of the shortage of officers in the Service, and the fact that the Special Entry cadets lacked the necessary background before being sent to UK. DCNS(D) concurred with DCNS(P)’s proposal and the Special Entry Cadets continued their training in Himalaya.

In May 1950 the Special Entry Cadets under training were examined by a Board of naval officers constituted by NHQ and the successful cadets joined Shamsher for sea training for a period of six months. At the same time, the Normal Entry candidates who obtained a minimum of forty per cent marks in their qualifying examination were considered for selection provided they were not graded lower than 5 by the Services Selection Board. It was intended that Himalaya should take two batches of cadets for training every year.

A make-shift Cadet Training School (CTS) had been established in two barracks in HMPS Himalaya. Lt. Cdr. Simcock was Officer in Charge, Cadet Training School and he was assisted by 1/Lt Feroz Shah. In September 1951 the first batch of 9 Cadets from the Joint Services Pre-Cadet Training School (JSPCTS) Quetta completed six months training and joined the Cadet Training School. 15 Direct Entry Cadets also joined at the same time. Thereafter selected Cadets proceeded in small batches to UK for training at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. Later the Pre-Cadet training was discontinued.

A close watch was kept on the progress of the shore facilities planned for the Navy in Karachi. An engineering appreciation of the project for setting up the Mechanical Training Establishment on the new site was approved at an estimated cost of Rs 65 lakhs, as against the original estimate of Rs 82 lakhs. NHQ pruned its proposal accordingly.

In September information was received from London that four German engineers had agreed to come under the new terms and conditions. Ex-Navy Captain Gunther Ludwig was contacted and he showed interest in assisting the RPN in setting up its own Dockyard. He recruited a team consisting of three other Engineers, George Six (MCD), Hans Mueller (MED) and Walter Pinske (EEM) for the purpose. Cdr I. K. Mumtaz interviewed the team in Germany. Earlier, during a visit to London, he had reviewed the plans for the dockyard with Messrs Rendell Palmer and Tritton. In addition to the team of four German engineers, the services of nine other technicians were also acquired.

The German engineers, on their arrival in Karachi, made some minor changes in the plans. They also proposed a few useful alterations in the sitting of the workshop buildings. The facilities to be provided were intended to cater to the existing needs of the RPN fleet including the destroyers but maximum possible provision was also made for future expansion. It was decided to keep the Railway siding to a minimum, and make maximum use of road transport for the movement of heavy materials within the dockyard. It was ensured that, with systematic planning, digging up of roads for the laying of cables, pipes and services would be avoided. The dockyard had to be self-sufficient in electricity supply, and the Power House Building was designed to be blast proof. The electronic workshop was to be air-conditioned.

There were delays due to a shortage of steel and cement and lack of experience on the part of one of the contractors. The Admiral expressed great concern at the collapse of a wall of the sail loft, which had resulted in some casualties among the laborers. A board of enquiry was ordered, and consequently, some improvements were made in the design of the walls for the dockyard.

A new stores depot was planned to be built in West Wharf with its main office within the depot. Every effort was made to complete the construction of the building in the minimum time and as the building assumed shape stores were shifted to it from a hired shed. At the same time, the Government approved a proposal to recruit officers for the Naval Stores Department. Selection of the candidates under the scheme was carried out by a selection board constituted in NHQ, with representatives of the RPN, the Pakistan Public Service Commission and the Ministry of Defense.

The Commander-in-Chief of the East Indies Squadron, Vice Admiral Sir G. N. Oliver, KCB, DSO, arrived in Karachi in November in his Flagship HMS Mauritius and the frigate HMS Loch Quoich to participate in combined exercises with all available ships of the RPN Fleet. Heavy bombardment of Churna Island by ships and Royal Pakistan Air Force aircraft was carried out. While the aerial bombing was in progress, one of the aircraft (piloted by a Polish officer on loan to the RPAF) happened to drop a 500-pound bomb between two columns of ships as they approached Churna. This promptly brought e sardonic riposte from Admiral Oliver. In e signal to Admiral Jefford he said: “Was that done to add a touch of realism or just to frighten me? Whichever it was, it succeeded!”

Towards the end of November, the RPN played host to His Imperial Majesty’s Iranian Ship Baber which stayed in Karachi for a week. This was in recognition of the growing bonds of friendship between Pakistan and Iran.

A number of goodwill cruises were done during 1950. Sind (Lt Cdr C. S. Ahmed) went to Jeddah in September and arrived in time for Hajj. All Muslim officers and most of the ratings performed the holy pilgrimage. The rest of the ratings later performed Umra. The Saudi Government extended e warm welcome to the Pakistani ship end as e gesture of goodwill exempted its officers end men from all taxes. A guard of honor was presented to the Crown Prince at Mina. The Commanding Officer was granted audience by His Majesty Shah Abdul Aziz, while His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, accompanied by one of the younger princes, Prince Mansoor, several ministers and high-ranking officials of the Saudi Government paid a visit to the ship on 1 October.

Tippu Sultan (Cdr A. R. Khan) after e refit in Malta carried out e goodwill cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean, visiting Venice, Athens, Istanbul, Izmir and Crete. The visit to Turkey especially left e deep impact on the Turks who received the Pakistani officers and ratings with overwhelming hospitality. Tippu Sultan returned to Malta joining Tariq (Cdr S. M. Ahsan) there, and the two destroyers took part in the winter exercises of the Mediterranean Fleet. Shamsher carrying a full complement of cadets and boys under training left Karachi for Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. Shamsher rendezvoused with Sind south of Sri Lanka on 21 December. The two ships constituted Force 93 and their long and colorful voyage to Australia provided the cadets and the boys an excellent introduction to life at see.

With the growth of the navy, due attention had to be paid for developing an adequate set up to meet the medical requirements of the officers and the men. Indeed, on 6 November, 1950 most of the time of a meeting of the Defense Council of the Cabinet was spent on the reorganization of the medical services of the armed forces. It was agreed to create a single cadre of medical officers for the three Services, with a Director General, Medical Services in the rank of Lieutenant General. Below him were the Directors of Medical Service (DMS) for each of the three Services. The DMS Army was to be of the rank of Major General, while the Directors for the Navy and Air Force were to be in the rank of Colonel or equivalent.

Basically the armed forces were to have a joint cadre and doctors were to be commissioned initially in the Army, subsequently they were to be seconded to the Navy and Air Force in accordance with their requirement. The indefatigable DMS (Navy) Surgeon Captain Gardezi struggled hard to secure sanctions and funds for setting up a medical cadre for the Navy, compatible with the Service’s needs and standards. This was easier said than done in view of the general lack of concern for the Navy in the higher echelons of the Government and the inevitable rivalry between the three services – a feature by no means confined to the armed forces of Pakistan for the distribution of resources.

A major problem which confronted NHQ was the unexpected shortage of ratings. The earlier comfortable surplus of ratings had within four years been alarmingly eroded. Firstly, recruitment had not gone too well. Secondly, a large number of ratings decided to leave the Service due to the adverse impact of a new pay code introduced by the Government. The problem was particularly acute in regard to requirement of apprentices and boys of matriculation standard. To some extent the situation was overcome, by raising the upper age limit for all ratings to seventeen and a half from fourteen to seventeen for apprentices and 15-16 for boys.

A surplus of 347 ratings in 1948, including 563 under training, changed to a shortage in 1950. In 1948 the sanctioned strength of ratings was 2814. Some forty years later with the addition of submarines, the air arm and the setting up of marine units, the sanctioned strength increased in 1991 to 25000 which compares favorably with the peak strength of the Royal Indian Navy during World War II. Between 1948 and 1950 NHQ took steps to increase the strength of the officer cadre to keep pace with the expansion of the Fleet and the shore logistic facilities. As a result the officer strength was increased by 100 in various categories through promotion from the lower deck, promotion of Branch Rank officers, promotion of upper yardmen and commissioning of suitable civilians through selection boards. By the end of the year the borne strength of officers reached 358 but this still fell short of the sanctioned strength which had grown to 490. The shortage of officers was in fact a chronic problem and for the next two decades the Service was plagued by this problem. With the intensification of the recruitment drive for officers and rating, the need to improve the Pension Code was also acutely felt. By 1950 NHQ succeeded in securing an improved pension code for all ranks. This came into effect on 1 January. 1951.

The dawn of the New Year greeted the frigates Shamsher (Cdr M. A. Alavi) and Sind (Cdr C. S. Ahmad) in the Australian port of Freemantle. On 5 January they sailed for Sydney making brief stops at Adelaide and Melbourne on the way. They arrived in Sydney on 24 January, two days before Australia completed its fifty years as a Dominion of the British Commonwealth. On 26 January the Pakistani ships participated in the Golden Jubilee celebrations which were arranged on a grand scale to mark the occasion. As bearers of goodwill from one of the ‘youngest’ Dominions of the Commonwealth, they received extensive publicity in the Australian Press and other media. On completion of the visit they sailed for Jarvis Bay to take part in a series of combined exercises along with ships of the Australian and New Zealand Navies.

Phase I of the Combined Exercises was held in Jarvis Bay from 30 Jan to 23 February and Phase II in the Hobart area from 24 February to 15 March. Phase III was held in Jarvis Bay from 30 March to 7 April. On completion the ships visited Sydney from 7 to 11 April. Before parting company with the Australian and New Zealand Navies, the following message was signaled to H. M. King George VI:

‘On completion of combined exercises in this, the Jubilee Year of the Commonwealth of Australia. Your Majesty’s New Zealand, Canadian, Pakistan, Australian and Royal Navy Ships submit their humble duty in the common cause’.

His Majesty’s reply was as follows:

‘I shall be glad if you will express to all ranks and ratings taking part in combined Naval exercises my sincere thanks for their kind and loyal message which I greatly appreciate’.

To commemorate the RPN ships participation in the Combined Exercises, Commander M. A. Alavi, RPN, Senior Officer Force 93, presented to Rear Admiral Eccles an ornamental shield mounted on wood with the inscription:

“Presented to His Majesty’s Australian Fleet by Officers and Men of His Majesty’s Pakistan Ships Shamsher and Sind to commemorate our happy association. Jubilee Year 1951.”

In return the Royal Australian Navy presented to Commander M. A. Alavi a polished wood shield bearing a representation of the map of Australia with the ports visited by the Royal Pakistan Navy ships linked by a silver thread.

The RPN ships then paid a four days visit to each of the New Zealand ports of Wellington and Auckland. Sind returned to Sydney, arriving there on 29 April, for her dockyard refit and Force 93 was dispersed on 12 May, 1951. Shamsher proceeded on a cruise calling at Brisbane, Darwin, Sourabaya, Bali, Jakarta, Singapore, Chittagong. Chalna and Colombo prior to returning to Karachi on 28 June. Sind on completion of her refit sailed from Sydney on 8 July and after visiting Darwin and Singapore arrived in Karachi on 8 August.

At the turn of the year Jhelum (Cdr M. Harris) visited London and received the First Sea Lord who was very pleased with the appearance of the ship. She then proceeded to Southampton for a refit. HMS Onslaught, which had been acquired by the RPN, was undergoing refit and tropicalization in the UK. She was commissioned HMPS Tughril (Cdr S. M. Ahsan) on 6 March, 1951 and became part of the 25th Destroyer Flotilla. However, just after her commissioning she developed certain defects in the port condenser and had to be taken to Devonport for repairs. This delayed her departure and she eventually reached Karachi on 8 August.

Since the Autumn of 1950, correspondence had been going on between the Governments of the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan about joint exercises at Trincomalee under the command of the British Commander-in-Chief East Indies Squadron, in which ships of the Royal Navy, the Royal Pakistan Navy, the Indian Navy, and the Royal Ceylon Navy were to take part. The idea was mooted by Vice Admiral Sir Geoffrey Oliver, Commander-in-Chief, and was welcomed enthusiastically by the Naval Commanders in Pakistan and India. Its reception in political circles was however, definitely cooler, particularly in India, and it took considerable persuasion by the heads of the two navies to get their respective Governments to agree. Eventually arrangements were made for Joint Exercises Trincomalee (JET One) to take place in March and April 1951. Thereafter JETS became an annual feature. From small beginnings it grew enormously and on occasions included ships of the Royal Australian and New Zealand Navies.

On 12 March, 1951. the C-in-C RPN once more hoisted his flag in Jhelum and Force 91 was constituted:

Jhelum (Flagship) Cdr M. Harris RN
Tippu Sultan Cdr A. R. Khan RPN
Tariq Lt Cdr Wazir Gul RPN

The Force sailed for Trincomalee on 14 March arriving there on 21 March JET ONE having commenced on the previous day with a night shadowing encounter exercise with two frigates of the Royal Navy, HM Ships Loch Quoich and Wren.

In Trincomalee the RPN ships rendezvoused with a large force representing the Royal Navy, the Indian Navy and the Royal Ceylon Navy. The nine ships which comprised the Force were:

HMS Mauritius Flagship Vice Admiral Sir Geofrey Oliver. C-in-C East Indies, HMS Wren
HMS Loch Quoich
INS Ranjit Flagship Rear Admiral G Barnard CBE, DSO, FOC, IN Squadron
INS Sutlej (1712) Captain BS Soman IN INS Kistna
INS Delhi joined later.
HMCeyS Vijaya Royal Ceylon Navy

The arrival of the RPN Squadron in Trincomalee was the signal for the commencement of fourteen days of strenuous exercises both in harbor and at sea, under the keen eye of Admiral Oliver whose skill and experience were a distinct asset to the participating navies. Officers and men from the ships also took part in various Inter Services Tournaments. Inter-ship visits were also a great feature.

Four decades and two wars later the fraternization between the officers and ratings of the RPN and Indian Navy, which was then in evidence, may seem something of an incongruity in view of the deep mistrust which has since developed between Pakistan and India. Whatever the political situation might have been between Pakistan and India, a major factor was the fact that the officers and men of the RPN and IN had been shipmates together, less than four years earlier, in an undivided navy and had shared the trials and tribulations of World War II. Many an old friendship was revived in the ward-rooms and mess decks and on the whole it contributed to an atmosphere of goodwill and fraternity.

One event about which Admiral Oliver had some misgivings was the hockey match scheduled between RPN and IN which had the potential of working up emotions on both sides. Admiral Oliver atone stage even thought of calling it off, however, both Admiral Jefford and Admiral Barnard assured him that, in their view, the event would go off without any incident and they offered to patrol the sidelines of the hockey ground while the match was in progress to look out for any signs of trouble. They had decided that they would consult with each other when the match was halfway through and exchange views on how the two teams were reacting to each other. They found that the game was being played in a spirit of true sportsmanship and after half time the Admirals sat together in the stands to watch the game in comfort.

Officers and men from both sides also sat round the ground and even the hooting and hollering was taken in good spirit. Encouraged by the leadership provided by Lt Muzaffar Hasan and with the virtually impassable Lt (E) Mir Haider as goalkeeper. the RPN team won by a handsome margin of five goals to one.

Force 93 sailed from Trincomalee on 5 April. A cruise of East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands took the ships to Diego Garcia, Port Louis (Mauritius), Dar-es-Salam, Zanzibar, Tanga and Mombasa. On 7 April they crossed the Equator and the time honored ceremony of “Crossing the Line” was held. The Force sailed for Aden on 9 May and thence to Karachi, the 25th DF being detached off Koria Moria Islands. Jhelum proceeded to Jiwani and arrived in Karachi on 23 May. When the C-in-C shifted his flag ashore on this occasion, it was for him a particularly sad moment as he knew that his assignment with the RPN was nearing completion and his days in operational command afloat were over.

Commonwealth Flotilla numbers allocated to the RPN Fleet by the Admiralty were:

25th Destroyer Flotilla HMPS Tippu Sultan (D.25)
HMPS Tariq
HMPS Tughril
25th Frigate Flotilla HMPS Jhelum (F.25)
HMPS Shamsher
51st Minesweeping Flotilla HMPS Dacca (M/S 51)
(Later changed to 33rd) HMPS Baluchistan
HMPS Peshawar
HMPS Bahawalpur
342nd SDML Flotilla SDML 3517
SDML 3518
SDML 3519
SDML 3520

The time had arrived when training at sea needed the full time attention of a senior officer afloat. Consequently on 1 June, 1951 Commodore HMS Choudri hoisted his broad pennant in Tippu Sultan as Commodore Commanding RPN Squadron (COMPAK). The Squadron initially consisted of 25th Destroyer Flotilla Tippu Sultan, Tariq and Tughril and 25th Frigate Flotilla Jhelum, Sind and Shamsher. The fact has to be recorded nevertheless that the extent and variety of sea-going which went on even prior to the establishment of COMPAK played a notable part in bringing young RPN commanding officers and their ships companies to early maturity. In particular they were able to assess themselves and be assessed in competition with the ships of other navies. This bred a great deal of confidence among the officers and the men serving under them.

The efficiency of a small navy, like the one that Pakistan had at the time, working by itself in isolation, can suffer. It can become a bit too inward looking and tend to set its standards on its own without comparing them with standards acceptable in other advanced navies of the world. The inevitable result then is a slow decline. Fortunately for the RPN the various alliances made by the Government with other nations shortly after independence gave the RPN the opportunity to work alongside several other modern navies, many of them technologically and professionally well ahead of the RPN. This helped the ships to conform to international standards and attain a high level of proficiency, becoming mature units in the process, despite the young age of the service to which they belonged.

The Commander-in-Chief had hardly got himself re-established ashore when yet another ugly crisis arose with India. It seemed that a clash would be inevitable. In July 1951, almost 90 per cent of the Indian Army was deployed on the Pakistan border and Pakistan had to take steps to resist possible aggression. As a result RPN ships were brought forward from reserve and manned from the Depot and Training Establishments, thus causing dislocation in the training, drafting and leave programmes of the Service.

By the middle of September the situation had eased somewhat but even then it was decided that the Service should stay in a state of operational preparedness until January 1952. This inevitably delayed progress on several training programmes, and in some cases the delay was up to six months. However, when it became apparent that the tension had eased to an extent that war between Pakistan and India appeared unlikely, Admiral Jefford sought permission from the Prime Minister, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, who also held the defense portfolio, to visit UK to undergo tonsillectomy which had been prescribed earlier. The Admiral did not then know that he was never to see Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan again, as only a few days before his return to Karachi an assassin’s bullet took the Prime Minister’s life at a public meeting in Rawalpindi.

The assassination also led to the abrupt hiatus in a programme of exercises in amphibious warfare which were held off Karachi from 8 October to 5 November. The RN frigates HMS Loch Quoich and Loch Glendhu were already in Karachi for the exercises but as soon as the news of Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan’s murder was received the exercise was called off. A gun carriage of the RPN carried the late Prime Minister’s body to its last resting place near the grave of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Later, after Khawaja Nazimuddin assumed the office of Prime Minister, the former Finance Minister, Mr. Ghulam Mohammad. was sworn in as Governor-General and the RPN presented a guard of honor on the occasion.

The scheduled Amphibious Exercises re-commenced towards the end of October. They were witnessed among others by Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin, the Minister of State for Defense, Sardar Amir Azam Khan, the C-in-C Royal Pakistan Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Atcherley, Major General Lauder, Commandant of the Command and Staff College, Quetta, students and members of the Directing Staff of the College, Military Attaches of foreign embassies and a large number of high-ranking civil and military officials.

The exercises included bombardment by RPN ships and aerial bombing by RPAF aircraft and the target once again was Churna Island. The bombing and strafing by RPAF fighters including some newly acquired Jets were watched with particular interest. RPN ships carried out day and night full-caliber shoots, firing of depth charges, close range anti-aircraft shoots, night encounter exercises and demonstrations in convoy escort.

On 5 November, HMP Ships Tippu Sultan, Tariq, Tughril, Jhelum, Sind along with HM Ships Loch Glendhu and Loch Quoich took part in an assault landing demonstration near Clifton beach. Units of 3rd/8th Punjab regiment were landed on the beach in DUKWs and naval craft (whalers, cutters and HLPs). RCLs were successfully used to transport bren carriers and medical units of the Army. The demonstration was watched by senior officers of the three services and also by foreign military attaches who greatly commended the close coordination by units of the Defense Services. The timing of the whole exercise was perfect and everything went like clockwork.

On the whole the Amphibious Warfare Exercises were a great success. The RPN ships and establishments which participated were: Tippu Sultan, Tughril, Tariq, Jhelum, Sind, Dacca, Baluchistan, Bhawalpur, Himalaya and Qasim.

On his return from England the C-in-C found that for the first time since the inception of Pakistan the entire Naval Headquarters was housed in one set of buildings at Fowler Lines. With a heavy heart he took leave of his office in West Wharf from where he could see the sea and his ships. However, the benefits arising from the concentration of all branches of NHQ in one location were manifest both in increased efficiency and saving of time and outweighed any personal considerations. He, therefore, resigned himself to becoming firmly “chairborne” for the last few months of his command which was due to terminate in February 1952.

In December the Governor-General expressed a desire to visit the Mekran Coast between 10 and 15 December, 1951 in a ship of the RPN. The C-in-C accompanied the Governor-General, his staff and the American Ambassador who embarked in Jhelum on the morning of 13 December at West Wharf. The ship cruised along the coast visiting Pasni and Ormara.

The question of nationalisation of the top positions in the RPN continued to receive the Government’s attention. The Ministry of Defense was of the view that Commodore Choudri should complete a full year as COMPAK and thereafter return to Naval Headquarters for six months as Deputy Commander-in-Chief before finally taking over command of the Service. Admiral Jefford was, therefore, asked to defer his retirement for a further year and to continue as C-in-C until the end of January 1953.

From a personal point of view the Admiral’s reaction was favorable. However, from the point of the Service, he believed that new ideas and concepts about the build up of Pakistan’s future Navy needed to be injected by Pakistanis themselves from the top and the time had come for him to make room for a younger person. Nevertheless, after further thought he felt that the transition perhaps had to be gradual, as envisaged by the Ministry. After talking things over with the Defense Minister and the Secretary, Ministry of Defense, he agreed to stay on. In any case, a lot still had to be done to make the Navy self-reliant, especially in the matter of maintenance of the units and developing adequate logistics.

For various reasons progress on the dockyard had been slower than expected. For one thing, disregarding the advice of the Consulting Engineers, the Government had insisted on floating world-wide tenders for the construction of the dry dock. This meant considerable, and in some ways fruitless, delay while tenders were being scrutinized from a large number of firms, some of whom seemed to have little knowledge or experience with dry docks and their construction. One particular firm from the Philippines, ignoring what it probably regarded as mere trivialities such as methods of design and construction, produced a lump sum tender on the strength of having recently built a racecourse in Manila.

It was not until 1951 that the main contracts were placed and the successful contractor, Messrs Wimpeys, a firm from the United Kingdom, did not start work until February 1952. To make matters worse, work on the ancillary projects such as the building of approach roads and the erection of the necessary machine shops and other buildings, was seriously hindered because of a nationwide shortage of two major construction materials – steel and cement.

In the effort involved in developing the necessary infrastructure for the RPN, Admiral Jefford did not feel too happy about the financial system operating in the Ministry of Defense. His notes indicate he felt there had been too much rigidity on the part of some of the officials, otherwise very capable, in administering financial regulations. As he put it, even the best of systems too rigidly administered could prove to be counter-productive while a mediocre system worked by people with vision and understanding of the ultimate goal could act as something of a catalyst in achieving the end result. Rules, he said, had to be a guide to the wise and an inviolable law only to the foolish.

The Admiral made some pertinent observations about the people he encountered while obtaining Government sanction and clearances. He held in the highest esteem men like Chaudhry Mohammad All and Mr. Mohammad Shoaib, who occupied senior positions in the set up of the Government in the early years. In Mr. Ghulam Mohammad also he believed Pakistan had a brilliant Finance Minister but then his very stature made him something of an awesome figure to the officers of his ministry. He laid undue stress on economy in expenditure and too often many officers of his ministry interpreted this to mean that the answer to every proposal had to be a firm ‘No’.

A case in point was the proposed size of the cadre of the RPN which NHQ had to process literally man by man to obtain necessary approval from the financial authorities, and when the proposal was finally agreed to in October 1947, there was the astounding demand that NHQ would be required to present a justification for the cadre all over again in January 1948.

Admiral Jefford has regretfully recorded that to begin with Mr Ghulam Mohammad. while holding the Finance portfolio, did not seem convinced that Pakistan needed a navy at all, except perhaps by way of a small token force for prestige purposes, later he moderated his views. However, the attitude permeated down the line in the set up of the Financial Adviser of the Defense Ministry and NHQ found its request for budget sanctions being resisted stubbornly at almost all levels. It was Admiral Jefford’s view that but for the positive attitude of the Quaid-e-Azam and Prime Minister Mr. Liaquat All Khan, the situation for the Navy could have been really grim in its critical formative stage.

Admiral Jefford described Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan as a true statesman who embodied in himself everything that was best in Pakistan. The Admiral said;

‘In addition to being a true statesman Mr. Liayuat Ali Khan was also a natural strategist, with a very clear idea of the role that Pakistan had to play on the international scene in the world. Completely selfless and implacably honest, his keen brain and cool head steered Pakistan through one crisis after another. As Minister for Defense, in examining the numerous projects put before him by the Chiefs of the three Services, he had the knack of grasping the kernel of a scheme in a very short time and woe betide its author it the proposal was not an essential one or more disastrous still. if it contained any element of bluff. At the same time, once he was convinced then he would back the project to the hilt. From the first he saw how essential the Navy was to his country, not only in the short term situation vis-a-vis India, but also the long-term classic role of any sea service, that of protecting its country’s seaborne trade, which in Pakistan’s case was necessary for her very existence. At the same time he allowed himself no favorites and saw to it, as far as he could, that each Service got its fair share of the Defence Budget.

During the early days of Pakistan, Mr. Liayuat Ali Khan toured the country almost continuously and by his very presence brought comfort and confidence to thousands of his countrymen who were victims of the great upheaval. With war clouds hovering over the Kashmir and Indian borders the Defense Council was frequently in session and it met wherever the Prime Minister happened to be. Sometimes this would be Lahore, sometimes Rawalpindi, Peshawar or Karachi. Such were the times and so varied were the problems that it was frequently necessary to halt a Defense Council meeting to hold an emergency Cabinet meeting and, when this happened the Service Chiefs usually remained as interested spectators.’

Before the year ended NHQ forwarded to the Admiralty its requests for further purchases of ships and stores. The items included destroyers, minesweepers, a tanker. a tug and a floating dock. According to Admiralty records, the position in respect of Pakistan’s requirements in September 1951 was as follows:

Destroyer Daring or Weapon No prospect to construct for
Class Pakistan in near future.
Minesweepers Not available for transfer.
Algerine Class Construct on possible in two years.
Tranker (10,000 DWT) Not available, construction possible in four years.
Floating Dock Not available
Stores More details required.

A letter dated 25 August, 1951 addressed to Prime Minister Clement Attlee from Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, asked him to consider Pakistan’s requirements of defense equipment as urgent. At a meeting held at 10 Downing Street on 10 September one of the subjects discussed was Pakistan. It was noted that Pakistan was showing interest in the defense of the Middle East. The observation was made at the meeting that it was important while dealing with requests from Pakistan to ensure that undue miss givings of the Indian Government were not aroused and answers to the requests and complaints of both Governments should be made with equal impartiality. Instructions were given to send a report to the Defense Committee asking at what dates these requests should be met.

Earlier requests for ships and stores are also evident from a Minute dated 1 November, 1951 where the Head of Military Finance had mentioned the following costs in pounds sterling:

Weapon Class Destroyer 1,600.000
Armament Stores and Guns 120,000
Naval Stores 81,000
Minesweeper (Algerine) 480,000
Armament Stores and Guns 40,000
Naval Stores 39,000

In January 1952 the units of the RPN Flotilla were reconstituted into Squadrons as follows:

a. 25th Destroyer Squadron comprising HMP Ships Tippu Sultan, Tariq and Tughril. b. 25th Frigate Squadron comprising HMP Ships Jhelum, Sind and Shatnsher. c. 33rd Minesweeping Squadron comprising HMP Ships Dacca, Baluchistan and Peshawar. d. 342nd SDML Squadron comprising SDMLs 3517,3518 and 3519.

It was with some sense of excitement that the RPN Fleet looked forward to its participation in the Royal Escort for HRH Princess Elizabeth and her consort, the Duke of Edinburgh, in January 1952, on their Commonwealth tour in SS Gothic. The destroyers Tippu Sultan (Captain M. A. Alavi) and Tughril (Cdr Muzaffar Hasan), detailed for the purpose, sailed from Karachi for a rendezvous off Colombo with HMS Kenya Flagship of Sir Geoffrey Oliver, C-in-C East Indies Station, who was in overall command of the Escort Squadron. In Ceylon they were joined by units of the Indian Fleet. The escorts sailed from Ceylon on 22 January and crossed the Equator on 28 January when the traditional ‘crossing the line’ ceremony was observed with great gusto and hilarity.

The Escort Squadron arrived in Mombassa on 30 January and was received with touching hospitality by the local population. On 1 February the Muslim Association of Zanzibar held a reception in honor of the ships. The same night news of the sudden death of HM King George VI was received in East Africa and the Escort Squadron was disbanded and HRH the Princess and her consort flew back to London.

Tippu Sultan and Tughril visited Colombo again, Tippu Sultan then returned home and Tughril departed for a cruise to Burma. The frigates Sind and Jhelum left for Malta for docking. They had to stay in Malta much longer than expected owing to a strike of the dockyard workers. Sind returned to Karachi on 5 April while it was not until 19 May that Jhelum was able to complete her refit and arrive home.

Shamsher flying the broad pendant of Commodore HMS Choudri, Commodore Commanding RPN Flotilla, left Karachi on 15 February, 1952 and on 22 February was joined by Tughril from Colombo. Both ships sailed on a goodwill visit to Burma arriving there on 26 February. This was the first such visit of RPN ships to Burma. It provided an opportunity to meet officers and men of the Union of Burma Navy and helped to foster friendship between the two countries. On their way back the ships visited St. Martin’s Island, Cox’s Bazaar, Khulna and Chittagong in East Pakistan, while Tariq visited Ormara and Pasm from 4 to 9 February to provide assistance to the RPAF Meteorological Observatory.

HMPS Bahawalpur which had been commissioned for the emergency in July 1951 was placed in the Reserve Fleet in January, 1952, while HMPS Ghazi was commissioned on 27 April, 1952 after a refit which had lasted over three years.

The RPN Flotilla continued to be under the command of Commodore HMS Choudri, MBE, RPN (COMPAK) until the end of May 1952, when the command passed to the Senior Officer, RPN Flotilla [SOF(P)], which organization became effective on 1 June, 1952. Captain Romould Nalecz Tyminski, VM, DSC, RPN, a Polish officer who had served with distinction in World War II with the Royal Navy and whose services were acquired by the RPN, assumed command of Tippu Sultan after she returned from the cruise. He was appointed SOF(P). The Flotilla Office was established at West Wharf on I 1 July, 1952.

(Note. VM = Virtuti Militari – a Polish decoration)