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K83 Vidyut (Sov Osa-I)
K90 Viyut (Sov Osa-II)

Russia had given missile boats to the Indonesian and Egyptian navies in the early 1960s. The Russian side had first shown the missile boats to the Indian Defence Minister's Delegation in August 1964. At that time, the Navy had shown no interest in these boats, mainly because no Western Navy had such boats and it was not clear how useful they would be in rough weather.

After the 1965 war, two major considerations led to the Navy's acquisition of missile boats from the Soviet Union. The main one was that these boats could deter hit and run raids on the Saurashtra coast of the type that Pakistan Navy had so successfully done at Dwarka.

At one time, intelligence had suggested that the Pakistan Navy was considering the acquisition of missile fitted frigates. Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Gorshkov was able to persuade the Indian Navy that for the defence of Bombay and other major ports, the small Osa class of missile boats would be ideal. Their mere presence would prove a great deterrent to the enemy embarking on an attack.

The second consideration was the pressure from the Navy's young gunnery specialists to acquire missiles. Russia had already supplied missile boats to Indonesia and to Egypt. In June 1967, during the 6 day Arab Israeli War, an Egyptian missile boat sank an Israeli frigate, the EILATH, at a range well beyond the frigate's own guns.

Navies all over the world woke up with a start to the effectiveness of this new Russian weapon - the surface to surface, anti ship, homing missile - which enabled a small boat to sink a ship several times its size within a matter of minutes. At one stroke, this new weapon altered the centuries old concept of prolonged gun battles between opposing warships.

The significant characteristics of the boat were an extremely thin skinned 200 ton hull, propelled by very high power engines to give a high speed of 34 knots. Being small, the boat had a very small radar cross section. Its sophisticated radar was more advanced than any other known radar - it enabled the missile boat, with its low radar reflectivity, to detect a larger ship well before the latter was even aware of its presence, to fire its missiles and to speed away faster than any other ship.

The Russian naval architects had deliberately designed these characteristics, so as to give the small boats this advantage against much larger American naval ships attempting to attack the Russian coast. Basically, the boats were designed for, and had limited endurance for, only coastal operations.

The Indian Navy decided to press for the purchase of eight such boats. There followed the intense activity of preparing the ground for selling the idea to the Government. The Defence Minister, Mr Jagjivan Ram had taken kindly to the idea of our acquiring these boats. The Navy got Cabinet approval for further negotiations with the Soviet Government.

In January 1969, a delegation went to Moscow to discuss and finalise the acquisition of missile boats. Visits were arranged to the Russian naval base at Baku in the Caspian Sea to go to sea in a missile boat and visit a submarine rescue vessel. The Delegation signed an agreement for the acquisition of a squadron of missile boats and Technical Positions for storing and preparing their liquid fuelled missiles.

Personnel completed their training in Russia in March 1970, and acceptance trials of the boats started in mid 1970. To conserve their machinery, the boats were lightened and loaded on to heavy lift merchant ships and transported to India.

No consensus could be found on how best to protect the thin skinned hulls from the rapid bottom fouling and corrosion which affected all ships hulls in tropical waters. One view was that they should not be left in the water until actually required to go to sea - they should be hauled up on slipways and stowed on concrete hards. Since these hards would be both expensive and time consuming to construct, and would also entail dredging, the idea had to be given up. Eventually, they were berthed in the Wet Basin of the Naval Dockyard Bombay. And the bottom fouling, which over time had begun to seriously reduce their speed by as much as 10 knots, was removed just before the commencement of the war in 1971.

The missile boats of Indian Navy which launched major offensives on Karachi during 1971 war are called killers. The Indian Navy acquired eight such boats in mid-1971. This formed the 25th Missile Vessel Squadron comprising Vijeta, Vidyut, Vinash, Veer, Nashak, Nipat, Nirghat and Nirbhik.

These boats were in action during 1971 war to unleash terror on Pakistan ships which were armed with P-15 missiles. The killers carried out a daring attack on the mid-night of December 4, 1971. This day is celebrated every year as Navy Day.

In mid 1971, it was decided to acquire five more Petyas and four more submarines because the series production of these vessels in Russia was coming to an end. The Navy wanted these acquisitions to incorporate the additions and alterations which had been identified for improving their performance. In due course, Indian Navy acquired eight more missile boats namely Pratap, Prachand, Prabal, Pralaya, Chatak, Charag, Chapal and Chamak.

In early 2005 Eastern Naval Command organised a get-together of Killers at Visakhapatnam in which all the officers who were onboard the Killers took part. On this occasion, INS Chapal and Chamak demonstrated their calibre to all those who were present on the occasion. Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Arun Prakash, himself the Commanding Officer of INS Chatak, witnessed the demonstration. The other dignitaries present on the occasion included Vice Admiral OP Bansal, FOC-in-C, Eastern Naval Command, Vice Admiral SCS Bangara, FOC-in-C, Southern Naval Command, Rear Admiral SR Sampath Gopal (Retd), Cmde V Jerath (Retd) and Capt MV Prabhakar (Retd).

All the boats except the last two, Chapal and Chamak, had been decommissioned by 2005. At Visakhapatnam, Indian Naval ships 'Chapal and Chamak', were decommissioned in May 2005. They were part of eight-missile boats acquired from the erstwhile Soviet Union. The two missile boats arrived in Kolkata on board the carrier ship Pripneprovsk and were commissioned in 1976 in Kolkata. Subsequently, they were part of 254 Killer Division to be integrated into 25th Killer Squadron and based in Mumbai.

The decommissioning ceremony began with the arrival of Rear Admiral RP Suthan, Chief of Staff, Eastern Naval Command. He has commanded the two missile boats and 254 Killer Division. With the sounding of the last post at sunset, the paying of pendant along with naval ensign of both the ships were lowered for the last time. Later, boxes containing the naval ensign of the ships were handed over by Cdr Harish Bahl and Lt Chriss Koshy, the last commanding officers of INS Chapal and Chamak respectively, to the chief guest. A ceremonial guard was paraded on the occasion.

Class K83 Vidyut
(Sov Osa-I)
K90 Viyut
(Sov Osa-II)
Displacement 245 ton full load
Dimensions 38.6 x 7.6 x 2.7 m
Speed 37 knots
Range 800 miles @ 25 knots
Complement 30
Armament 4 x SS-N-2A or B Styx SSM
4 x 30 mm (2 twin)

Vijeta, Vidyut, Vinash, Veer, Nashak, Nipat, Nirghat and Nirbhik.
Name Number Homeport Builder Ordered Comm Decomm
Osa-I Class
Vidyut K83 Russia 197
Vijeta K84 Russia 197
Vinash K85 Russia 197
Nipat K86 Russia 197
Nashak K87 Russia 197
Nirbhik K88 Russia 197
Nirghat K89 Russia 197
Osa-II Class
Prachand K 90 Vishakapatnam Russia 1976 Dec 1999
Pralaya K 91 Vishakapatnam Russia 1976 June 2001
Pratap K 92 Vishakapatnam Russia 1976 1990s
Prabal K 93 Vishakapatnam Russia 1976 Dec 1999
Chapal K 94 Vishakapatnam Russia 1976 May 2005
Chamak K 95 Vishakapatnam Russia 1976 May 2005
Chatak K 96 Vishakapatnam Russia 1976 May 2003
Charag K 97 Vishakapatnam Russia 1997

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:44:19 ZULU