As always, the submarine left harbour in the small hours, while the city slept. A huge, ominous shadow in the dark, she moved silently but for the faint hiss of the water against her sides. At five thousand tons, she was the largest warship in the Indian Navy after the carriers. The young Captain on the bridge had done this dozens of times, but taking this formidable vessel out through the narrow channel was still exciting, with a potential surprise lurking at every bend.
|Vice Adm R.N. Ganesh|
Slowly the submarine made its way out of the harbour and set course for the diving area. Today they were leaving on an extended surveillance patrol of the Bay islands under simulated war conditions, as part of the essential and never-ending process of maintaining presence in one’s own waters.
Before that, however, there was a game to be played. Units of the Fleet were returning from deployment in the south, and Headquarters had decided that the submarine would intercept them in a staged encounter and carry out a mock attack before detaching to proceed on her main mission. The ships would be closer in to the shore and the submarine further out, listening out for them against the backdrop of shallow water noises. The interception area was some miles to seaward of an estuary, and recent rains would have made the seawater density variable, causing trimming problems. Not ideal waters for a large nuke, thought the Captain, but therein lay the challenge. In addition, his crew would enjoy the thrill of the hunt.
“We’ll catch a quick trim, then we need to crack on some speed; our initial position is about twenty miles south of here.” The first dive after leaving harbour was always a ‘trim’ dive – a slow, deliberate dive done in stages to make any adjustments necessary to the Engineer Officer’s calculated trim.