DURING LIBERATION WAR
Birth of Bangladesh Navy ( BN )
12. The nucleus of BN was formed in June-July 1971 when a handful of courageous sailors under the leadership of Rahmatullah and A W Chowdhury (later promoted to commodore) defected from Toulon, France, where they were undergoing submarine training. The Bangladesh government in exile, on the advice of the defectees, planned to form a Naval Commando Force. About 357 freedom fighters were recruited from various training camps to join the Naval Commando. At the end of their training, C –in –C Bangladesh Force Colonel M A G Osmani in a brief deliberation to the commandos declared the group as the “First representative of Bangladesh Navy” and he informed the commandos that “time frame of independence would depend on their success”.
13. The Naval Commando comprising of these young men carried out attacks on merchant ships with Limpet Mines in Chittagong and Mongla (Chalna) maritime ports. They made 8 groups which was combination of 8 sailors and 500 other members that carried out ‘Operation Jackpot’ successfully in different sea and river ports destroying 26 ships of the enemy and neutralised the sea routes. The Naval Commando inflicted a crippling damage on the East Pakistan ports, inland waterways and shipping. They also caused serious damage to the Pakistani war efforts by sinking ships or damaging jetties and immobilizing of ports and navigable channels. A vast amount of international shipping was kept away from East Bengal ports in spite of the high rates of compensation announced by the Government. The Naval Commando held East Pakistan in a state of siege in the highest traditions of war at sea and that too without possessing a single oceangoing vessel. In four months, the frogmen attained their aim of closing the major ports of Chalna/Mongla and Chittagong, which paradoxically was mined by the departing Pakistani authorities using mines almost on the day prior to their surrender. There is little doubt that the naval commando frogmen accelerated the liberation of Bangladesh. The highly motivated frogmen, mostly students, did not seek any kudos or political recognition or reward except the liberation of there beloved ‘Sonar Bangla’. Freedom fighters from Mozambique, Libya and Somalia eagerly sought the details of these unique riverine naval commando operations of Bangladesh.
Operation of PADMA and PALASH
14. Besides commando operations, two pilot boats were converted into riverine patrol craft in September 1971 at Garden Reach Shipyard, Kolkata and named as “PADMA” and “PALASH”.
These craft were manned by 49 valiant Bengali sailors under the command of Indian Navy Officers and deployed in the river routes of Sundarbans. In November 1971, Padma and Palash carried out mining in Zulfiquar channel and destroyed four Pakistan merchant ships and one Patrol Craft. On 10 December 1971, PADMA and PALASH while proceeding to seize control of Chalna port and Naval Base Titumir, came under air attack near Khulna Shipyard and fire engulfed both the ships. Freedom fightersfrom both the ships jumped into river to save their lives. Engine Room Artificer Ruhul Amin valiantly fought to save his ship and embraced martyrdom. Govt. of the People's Republic of Bangladesh honoured him
with the highest gallantry award Bir Sreshtho for his patriotism and supreme sacrifice for the country. Nation will always remember Bir Sreshtho Shaheed Ruhul Amin with great admiration and pride. There were many other heroes whose names have gone into oblivion as there had not been a true record of naval commando actions. However, the BN remembers with honour and pride all those great Freedom Fighters whose undaunted bravery and sacrifice paved the way for the independence of the country.