It is unfortunate that I have to write this letter, having been the commanding officer on INS Sindhurakshak, from December 24, 1997 to December 1998. S-63 has turned the submariners greeting of “One surfacing more than the number of dives” on its head and has gone down, taking with her those who loved her and whom she loved in return.

The submarine stood vigil when the country needed her the most, off enemy shores, in 1999, a reassuring sentinel in the deep. I remember casting her off with my handwritten patrol orders in the dead of night, with a silent prayer on my lips. How well she performed. Quiet, stealthy and led by a fine commanding officer and dedicated crew, she accomplished what no one had done — a deterrent to the enemy in the true sense of the word for months on end.

The equation was simple — you took care of her and she took care of you; and yet this unfortunate one first and last time, that equation seems to have gone so horribly wrong.

As I pause to remember my time onboard, I relive the vivid memory of that cold, wintry morning on December 24, 1997, at the Admiralty shipyard, where Sindhurakshak, enveloped by the frozen ice floes of the Neva river, was getting ready to get commissioned into the Indian Navy. As the naval ensign went up for the first time and the Russian band played “Jana Gana Mana ….” I cherish the sense of pride and patriotism that welled up as I saluted. I thank her for giving me that one overwhelming moment. I feel sad that many of us might never be able to see the naval ensign hauled down for the last time in the customary way. Perhaps that is what Rakshak was meant to be — always on patrol. I offer my prayers to all those brave souls who lost their lives in the line of duty. To S-63, my final salute.

Capt. Ramanujam N.M. (retd.), Chennai

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