- Grazebrook, A.W., Lietutenant Commander
- None noted
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Kanimbla I, HMAS Melbourne II, HMAS Swan III, HMAS Torrens II
- December 1975 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
IN THE THIRTY YEARS since 1945, the Indian Navy has developed from a force of sloops, minesweeper and trawlers to an independent oceangoing Navy, operating its own carrier task force, oceangoing submarines, and missile armed fast attack craft.
The origins of the present Indian Navy lie in the naval service of the Honourable East India Company, which governed India on behalf of the then King of England. When the British Crown assumed direct rule of India, the naval service became the Bombay Marine and Bengal Marine. These two organisations performed a number of port and coastal functions, but the protection of commerce suppression of the slave trade, and general maritime defence became the responsibility of the Royal Navy.
In 1877 the two ‘Marines’ were formed into the Indian Marine, although their duties were ill-defined. In 1884 the British Parliament passed an Act defining the duties of the Marine, and placed it under the control of the Viceroy of India. In 1892, the Indian Marine became the Royal Indian Marine.
The RIM operated a number of gunboats and troops transports, a small dockyard at Bombay and another at Kidderpore, and performed some administrative functions at some commercial ports. The service was not held in high repute, which resulted in the establishment of a committee in 1911 under the Chairmanship of Rear-Admiral Sir Edmond J.W. Slade, Commander. The Committee found cause for concern in that:-
a. The vessels of the Marine were efficient but too costly.
b. The administration of the dockyards was not in all respects satisfactory.
c. There was scope for considerable economies with no loss of efficiency.
For an official published report, this was condemnation indeed. However, little seems to have been done prior to the First World War. Even at the end of that conflict the RIM was only operating a few armed craft – river craft for service in the Mesopotamian Campaign – and a number of troop transports.
On 14th March 1919, Admiral the Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa arrived at Bombay in HMS New Zealand. He was there to investigate and make recommendations regarding the maritime defence of the then Indian Empire. Jellicoe, who was promoted Admiral of the Fleet during his stay in India, had with him a staff, members of which visited all major Indian ports.
Although Jellicoe’s report to the third Baron Chelmsford, then Viceroy of India, was couched in appropriate traditional phraseology – the report began ‘I have the honour to inform your Excellency . . . ‘ – it was less than complimentary to the Royal Indian Marine. The report, which ran to well over ten thousand words, found that the RIM organisation was inadequate for war requirements in that:-
a. The RIM had insufficient ships.
b. Indian harbours were undefended against submarine attacks.
c. There was no minesweeping organisation.
d. The military defences of Indian harbours were incomplete.