INS Mysore, a 8700-ton Colony cruiser was earlier in service with Royal Navy under the name INS Nigeria. The 8,000-ton cruiser Nigeria had a brilliant record of service. Built in 1940, she saw service in many parts of the world during the second world war. A cruiser of the Colony class, the Nigeria was engaged maninly in escort and patrol duties in the early years of the war, helping convoys to fight through to Russia and to beleaguered Malta.
Following further service in northern waters and in the Mediterranean, Nigeria was sent to Colombo in 1944 as part of the Eastern Fleet. Until the end of the war the cruiser operated in south-east Asian waters, taking part in a number of important naval engagements. In July 1944, as the flagship of the Rear Admiral of the Fourth Cruiser Squadron, HMS Nigeria took part in the bombardment of Sabang, off Sumatra known as "operation crimson".
HMS Nigeria was the second British cruiser to be acquired by India since the end of World War II. The first was of the Leader class, 7000-ton HMS Achilles (now INS Delhi), transferred to the Indian Navy in 1948. This ship was refitted and modernised in British Shipyard, and was commissioned in Indian Navy in UK in August 1957. It was renamed as INS Mysore. The ship came to India and joined the fleet in 1958. The new crest designed for INS Mysore depicted the mythological double-headed eagle called Ganda-Bherunda taken from the Coat of Arms of the then Mysore State.
A motto had to be selected for this newly acquired cruiser which would become the flagship of the Indian Navy replacing the then INS Delhi. The selection committee suggested the motto Na bibheti Kadachana which was taken from Taittiriya Upanishad which means "Is never afraid of". The Committee felt that the motto would be apt for this newly acquired cruiser and recommended for adoption. the Defence Ministry accepted the recommendation and it was adopted by INS Mysore.
The Mysore surely features in the gallery (if there is one), in Swarg or Valhalla, with the Delhi, where great ships sail on upon a tranquil sea under a perpetually blue sky. The Navy's debt to these two ships is incalculable. If the Delhi was the kindergarten, Mysore was surely its finishing school. She certainly 'finished' the uneasy, the pussy-footing. But she also rounded off the daring and the defiant. In her long and distinguished career as the Flagship, the Mysore flew the flags of twenty Fleet commanders; many of them finished up on the big 'kursi' in Delhi. Their experience of her as Commanding officers,between 1958 and 1985 must surely have a bearing on the fortunes of the Indian Navy over more than 30 years.
Mysore, graceful, powerful, and easy to handle, but not so easy to manage, with her company of over six hundred. Raglan or Cardigan may have ridden to certain death with their six hundred. But Mysore's 600 were never such easy fodder. On more than one occasion they had succeeded in driving their Captain (and Admirals) to the verge of despair. If they recovered their wits, it was because the ship was greater than any individual or indeed the whole.
She rode the seas and rode at anchor with equal insouciance, equal nonchalance. But she was always aware of what went on within herlike many other great ships she was almost human. She troubled some Captains, but not others. She was the dismay of many of her engineers. There were those other Engineer officers who swore by the sweet reasonableness of her machinery and her agreeableness to run like a hare when asked to. Temperamental? Perhaps. It had so much to do with the temperament of those at the helm. With the Mysore it was a matter of knowing what one could do with her and what one couldn't. Unlike the Delhi she rarely forgave a mistake.
Bad man-management led to a mutiny on board the cruiser Mysore in 1972. The Mysore mutiny resulted in the appointment of a Board of Enquiry, as a result of which a large number of participants were sacked. It was also the end of career for a number of senior and promising officers.
The largest cruiser in Asia, INS Mysore served the Navy and the country for many years with dedication and distinction. This ship's name has a proud association. The State of Mysore, which was later renamed as Karnataka, produced many valiant warriors who fought against foreign rule.
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