New Book Foxtrots in Indian Naval Service


I really should change my personal text
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23 August 2013
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Foxtrots in Indian Naval Service is a new anecdotal history on the Foxtrots in Indian Naval service - a first of its kind describing India's nascent Submarine arm. Available on

Quick review :

Books exclusively on the Indian Navy's third dimension - the force multiplying submarine arm- are very rare - and this is probably the first by an Indian Navy submariner on this formidable Cold War warrior .

Commodore P.R. Franklin , the author and submarine commander , was trained in Vladivostok ,commissioned and commanded two of these Foxtrots and has penned these historical anecdotes which serves as a tribute to this robust subs..

The author has coined an anagram of the 8 Foxtrot submarines (INS Kalvari, Khanderi, Karanj, Kursura, Vela, Vagir, Vagli, and Vaghsheer) into one main protagonist - the INS Vanshali to retain confidentiality and ensure a fast paced travails and tribulations of this sub.While this is not a historical book in terms of an official history or chronological sequence of dates and events - its more an anecdotal history without specific dates which is bound to evoke nostalgia from the crew who served and the reader who would be awed by the exploits.

The author states that the fledgling Indian Navy had been promised the advanced Uberon class by the UK in the mid 60's who subsequently demanded a huge sum and ultimately reneged on the same and it was the Soviets who offered the diesel electric Foxtrot class on much more lucrative terms which also included the barter of bananas and shoes !! All the initial complement for this submarine arm were volunteers who were brave enough to accept the challenges and risks of being a submariner.

The opening chapter describes the Foxtrot Class ,with a layout diagram on the topology of the submarine. This cold war warrior was designed to traverse an astonishing 36000 nautical miles (halfway around the world) without refuelling and was designed for extreme endurance for upto 40 days of continuous patrol . The durability of this class is confirmed by the fact that not a single submarine was lost during its operations from the late '60's till decommissing in 2006.

The most interesting and sensational disclosure of the book is straight from one of the many Tom Clancy /Patrick Robinson thrillers - ie how one of the Foxtrots came close to firing a torpedo at a foreign "nuclear" submarine during the 1971 Indo- Pak war.

The Foxtrot "INS Vanshali " which was patrolling the Arabian sea detected a Sonar signature of a submarine. It was identified as being of foreign origin and in "hostile territory" and the acoustic signature suggested it was possibly nuclear powered and as per the prescribed rules of engagement , Vanshali's commander could not engage unless it was engaged or fired upon first .

INS Vanshali went into battle stations and the hunting engagement almost reached a thrilling finale when the other sub "blinked" and disengaged. What was this mystery foreign submarine ? Was this part of the formidable US Seventh Fleet ? Possibly we will learn one day when the naval records are declassified or another submariner recounts his memoirs.

Cmde Franklin ,who has also written an authoritative book on "Submarine operations" for the National Maritime foundation, has included chapters on the complexities of undersea warfare , deception on the fleet exercises and torpedo practice firings which gives an amazing insight into the mind of a Foxtrot submarine commander who did not have sophisticated instruments like GPS and today's decision making algorithms to assist him.

The pace of the book is bound to keep the reader spell bound and the author has interspersed the serious narratives with a few anecdotes which are quite hilarious , like the unusual mascot selected for the Foxtrot fleet , more serious encounters with smugglers , near collisions etc .Also of interest is the tale of the Indian shipyards servicing foreign Foxtrots (possibly Egyptian) , only for the Israelis to sink them in war and comment on the teamwork - "You repair them , we sink them".

To summarise , I would commend it as an excellent buy ,a must read and a great addition to the small genre of Indian Naval History .
Interesting, cheers

Re Egypt, they didn't use Foxtrot but they did use Romeo/Ming which is similar. I don't recall the Israelis sinking any although they sure wanted to. But I can imagine the comments.
Superb artwork on the Arihant and Stalin's super sub and of course on the Typhoon- my compliments

In case there is interest - this is another book on history of subs in India :

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