Service No : NAVY 011

Place of birth : Mumbai, MH

Last Rank : Lieutenant

Arm/Regt : Indian Navy

Operation : Indo-Pak War 1971

Awards : Nao Sena Medal

Martyrdom : December 9, 1971

Lt Suresh Hiranand Kundanmal NM

Lt Suresh Hiranand Kundanmal hailed from Mumbai and was born in an eminent lawyer’s family. After his schooling, he got selected for the prestigious NDA and joined the 22nd Course in 1959. He was one amongst seven children and grew up to be a very responsible child. Unfortunately, he lost his father at a young age and when his older brother migrated to the USA, the responsibility of being the head of the family fell on Lt Suresh’s shoulders, whilst he was a young cadet.


At NDA, he excelled in various aspects of training and developed into a fine officer. He was a keen sportsman too and excelled in playing basketball. He was also good at western music and charmed everyone with his his mimicry & singing skills.  After passing out of NDA, he along with the naval batch moved onto INS Tir. He later as Midshipman moved to INS Vikrant, INS Mysore & INS Rajput. Lt Suresh although physically tough, was very affable, compassionate and helpful person inside. Whenever his ship would be in harbour in Mumbai, he would invariably attend to his duties at home. He would tutor his youngest brother, facilitate another brother’s business venture and was always a pillar of strength for his mother.


Lt Suresh later went to serve on INS Shakti during 1967-68. After serving for sometime he got married to Ms Sheema from Dehradun and the couple had a daughter Coco. Lt Suresh got specialized in Navigation & Direction and then served as ADC to the Governor of West Bengal. Just before the 1971 war, Lt Suresh got appointed as Navigation officer of INS Khukri.


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


When the Indo-Pak War of 1971 broke out, Lt Suresh Hiranand Kundanmal was serving as a Navigation 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 Suresh Hiranand Kundanmal swung into action 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.  A survivor later revealed that Lt Suresh was one of the last on the bridge to be pushed by their captain, Capt Mulla to abandon ship. Before jumping overboard, Lt Suresh, gave away his life jacket to another sailor. He eventually could not survive and was martyred. INS Khukri sank within minutes, taking 176 sailors and 18 officers, and the ship’s captain, to their watery graves in the Arabian Sea.    


Lt Suresh Hiranand  Kundanmal was awarded "Nao Sena Medal" (Gallantry) posthumously for his dauntless courage and selfless actions. Besides Lt Suresh Hiranand  Kundanmal, the other officers, who were given gallantry awards posthumously included, Capt Mahendra Nath Mulla MVC, Lt Cdr JK Suri VrC, Lt Cdr Prabhat Kumar VrC,  Cdr M Ommen VrC, Surg Lt SS Panda VrC, and Lt VK Jain NM.   

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  • Vanita Singh

    2023at7:31 pm Reply

    My tribute in the ballad THE CAPTAIN to the brave Indian Navy personnel on board the INS KHUKRI on the fateful day of 9 December 1971 has been released on Spotify and YouTube. I share the links:

  • Shipra Maitra Moalypour

    2023at7:32 pm Reply

    Brings back joyful and sad memories it makes me proud to say he was my brother in law

  • CDR UBP Sikhamani (I.N.Retd)

    2023at7:32 pm Reply

    Today is 2nd of November 2021, and within a few weeks it will be 20th anniversary of the tragic sinking of INS Khukri. Suresh and self did our LONG ND course together in 1970. After the course he was posted on board INS Khukri and I on INS Godavari, both as the respective Squadron Navigators. While his ship was based in Bombay (now Mumbai), mine was based at Cochin (Kochi). Sometime during the middle of 1971, Khukri made an operational visit to Kochi and came alongside Godavari. He seemed preoccupied and pensive. I thought that it might have been because of the prep involved for the coming sailing and sea exercises. All the same, we exchanged a few words whilst standing on our respective ship’s decks.
    While exchanging pleasantries, I was suddenly taken aback when Suresh asked me if I would trade places with him. He said that he could arrange the swapping of ships. He gave me some reasons. I politely declined because my marriage was fixed at Kochi for Dec.4th and my future wife was from Kochi. Though we all sensed that the preparations for the war were on, we had no inkling as to when it would come and what roles our ships would be asked to play. Neither were we unduly worried about it. It seemed as though the war was still well below the horizon. Well, the war did finally come and swallowed up many lives. I knew a lot of officers onboard Khukri, and most of them went down along with Khukri.
    Kundanmal was all that his friends above said HE was, and much more. He always had an infectious smile and was generally ebullient, but on our last meeting he appeared subdued. what was it that was weighing upon his heart is left for our guessing.

  • Balasiva R

    2023at7:33 pm Reply

    Great to read about Lt Suresh Hiranand a great solider!!!,
    Lt Suresh Hiranand was very fortune to a friend like you Mr.Darshan Lal.


    2023at7:33 pm Reply




  • Siddhartha Datta

    2023at7:34 pm Reply

    My God I just remembered INS Khukri this evening while remembering the surrender of the Pakistan army to GOC Eastern Command Lt GenJSAurora
    While rejoicing in the memory of victory in the 1971 war. .our mind ( my late Mom Smt Nibha Datta my late Dad Shri Kshitipada Datta – aDefence Scientist and a very simple man himself and I) would always steer to the photo of Captain MN Mills sitting on the deck of the submarine Khukri going down with the Capt as he refused to budge till the last man was rescued.
    Today I came to know about Lt. Surest who was one with Capt. Mulla. Coincidentally I find Lt. Surest married a girl from my pencils of Dehradun.
    While my parents are no more today my wife Madhumita and daughter and son Shyamolima and Rajat respectively stand in salute as homage to Capt Mulla Lt. Surest and all other ranks who went down with INS Khukri. You shall always Shine Like AStar in the firmament of Naval and Indian history of warfare.

  • Subash Hiranand Kundanmal

    2023at7:34 pm Reply

    I wrote the following poem as a tribute to my older brother, Lt. Suresh Hiranand Kundanmal, when he served as Aide de Camp to the Honorable Mr. Dharma Vira, Governor of West Bengal in 1968. Two years later he joined many of his comrades in the capacity of Navigating Officer on the ill-fated INS Khukri. He was lost at sea on December 9th 1971 during the Indo-Pak War for the liberation of Bangla Desh. He was posthumously awarded the NAO SENA Medal in recognition of his outstanding service in the Navy and the Nation. I am the kid brother who was in awe of him when he was alive and who has been rendered a casualty of that war because of his irreplaceable loss.

    My dearest brother Suresh:

    “I need you as a brother would,
    I love you as a brother should,
    I trust you as a brother will,
    I’m proud that you are my brother.

    I respect you as a brother must,
    I need your guidance, faith and trust,
    When I think of your gentle words and ways
    I’m overjoyed that you are my brother.

    If your love for me is ever at stake,
    In life if I do make some mistake,
    Don’t lose your faith or love for me
    Think kindly of me – kind brother.

    In a world where those like you are rare,
    Like a few breaths of oxygen in polluted air,
    Must you wonder if I do say,
    I’m honored that you are my brother.”

    Subash Hiranand Kundanmal.
    December 1st 2017

  • Gopalakrishnan S

    2023at7:35 pm Reply

    Such a tragic end.
    Thank you sir for posting his story.
    Most of us have heard about Captain Mulla, but haven’t about other such great heroes.

    From a patriot.

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