Service No : 70090W

Date of Birth : July 3, 1937

Place of birth : Muzzaffarnagar, UP

Last Rank : Lieutenant Commander

Arm/Regt : Navy

Operation : Indo-Pak War 1971

Awards : Vir Chakra

Martyrdom : December 9, 1971

Lt Cdr Prabhat Kumar VrC

Lieutenant Commander Prabhat Kumar was born on 03 July 1937 in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh. Son of Shri SS Sharma, Lt Cdr Prabhat Kumar studied from SSD Inter College Meerut and graduated from Meerut college. He was commissioned into the Indian Navy at the age of 21 years on 01 Jan 1959 and was trained as an Electrical officer. By the year 1971, he had been promoted to the rank of Lt Cdr and had gathered experience operating from various ships of the Navy.


Indian Naval Operations (Indo-Pak War) : 09 Dec 1971


During Dec 1971 Lt Cdr Prabhat Kumar was functioning as an Electrical officer aboard INS Khukri, a Blackwood-class frigate of Indian Navy. It was part of the 14th Frigate Squadron of the Western Fleet, consisting of five ships with other four ships being INS Kirpan, INS Kalveti, INS Krishna and INS Kuthar. The 14th Frigate Squadron had the responsibility of hunting and neutralizing enemy submarines in the North Arabian Sea. The Indian Naval radio detection equipment identified a submarine in the vicinity of Diu harbour on 03rd Dec 1971. Unfortunately, one of the flotilla’s ships INS Kuthar developed a problem and on around 05 December, it was escorted back to harbour. Naval Headquarters ordered the Western Fleet to hunt and destroy the enemy submarine detected in Indian waters near Diu. This order was passed on to the commander of the F-14 Squadron, Captain Mahendra Nath Mulla. The squadron was, however, now reduced to two anti-submarine frigates, INS Kuthar not being available.


The two anti-submarine frigates left Bombay for their mission on 08 December and by the morning of 09 December were approaching the reported location of the enemy submarine. This was the ‘Hunter-Killer Force’ according to the TAS (Torpedo and Anti-Submarine specialists) of Western Naval Command.  In the late evening of 9th December, INS Khukri was attacked by the Pakistani submarine PNS Hangoor which fired torpedoes at it, causing devastating damage. What made the Indian vessel an easy target for enemy torpedoes was the presence of experimental sonar equipment aboard that had been specially deployed for research. The limitations placed by this equipment had drastically slowed down the movement of INS Khukri to the submarine-detectable speed of 12 knots.  Also, INS Khukri‘s sonar set had a detection range of up to 3,000 yards, whereas PNS Hangor could fire from distances of nearly six kilometers.


The captain of INS Khukri, Capt Mahendra Nath Mulla evaluated the situation within minutes and issued orders for its abandonment. There were two massive explosions inside the Khukri and the ship went dark. It lost all power and began to tilt steeply to its right (Starboard) as chaos followed the order of ‘abandon ship’. On realizing the danger to his men, Lt Cdr Prabhat Kumar went below the deck to get his men to safety. In the meantime, the ship was hit by another torpedo. Despite the fact that the chances of his survival were getting less every second, he continued to help his men to safety. INS Khukri sank within minutes, taking 176 sailors and 18 officers, and the ship’s captain, to their watery graves in the Arabian Sea. During the last minutes of his life, Lt Cdr Prabhat Kumar showed exceptional courage, helping save as many of his men as he could and not abandoning his vessel.


Lt Cdr Prabhat Kumar was a valiant soldier and gritty officer, who led from the front and laid down his life in the line of his duty. He was given the gallantry award, “Vir Chakra” for his exceptional courage, leadership and supreme sacrifice.

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  • Sameer Kumar

    2023at2:43 pm Reply

    My father

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