Monday 13 September 2021



The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things. – Ronald Reagan

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit – Harry S Truman

Spread Love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier – Mother Teresa

           The above three quotes aptly epitomise the persona that RAdm DN Thukral, VSM (Retd) is blessed with. He has been a torch and an illuminating light-house to several in the Indian navy and later in his second innings. I had the pleasure of maiden interaction with the Admiral in US Club during the 75th Birthday celebration of Veer Nari Mrs Janki Bhandoola 2 yrs ago (15 Mar 2019). 


    Little Dev was born in Delhi on 08 Sep 1941, in the pre independence era to Shri Badrinath, an Accounts officer in MOD  and Shrimati Durga Devi, a Housewife. They were four brothers and a sister. The parents infused a sense of Patriotism in their children and 3 of them joined the Armed Forces post-independence. RAdm Dev Thukral’s other siblings : Mr NN Thukral (Dep Asst Fin Advisor  in Min of Def Accts), Col Inder Thukral, SM (Bengal Sappers), Mrs Santosh Sawhney (spouse of Mr KP Sawhney, Employment Offr UP) and Cmde AN Thukral, VSM ( NC  2nd NDA).

      Adm Thukral accomplished his initial Schooling in St Thomas and Harcourt Butler School Simla upto 5th Std, thereafter    Senior Cambridge, New Delhi in 1957 and same year joined NDA’s 17th Course. After NDA he opted for the Engineering stream and completed BE from INS Shivaji Lonavala. He stood First in the Order of Merit in the POP of Naval Cadets on Board Kistna in Jun 1960. On commissioning in Jul 1961 he opted for specialisation in the Electrical stream from INS Valsura. After completion of his Technical courses he served in various ships and establishments. He was one of the pioneers of the Submarine Cadre of Indian Navy, who after training in UK and USSR set the foundations of operations and maintenance of the Submarines in our Navy. He was selected to head the Naval overseeing team for the construction of Submarines in West Germany, where he interacted with various industries in Germany, Europe and USA for inspection of equipment from 1982-87. 

      On return from Germany, he was appointed as DGM(Material), DGM(Planning) and later as GM(Tech) in Naval Dockyard Mumbai. He’s an alumnus of NDC that he attended in 1989. He was awarded the Vishisht Seva Medal by the President of India for Distinguished Service of a High Order. He has the reputation of being an expert in Project Management functions, ISO 9000 series, Quality Assurance, Total Quality Management as well as ISM concepts.   

    With his domain expertise, he was immediately absorbed by  MDL as Director shipbuilding on retirement in Feb 1991, where he served for 3 and half years, heading a separate division of over 8000 employees and has the distinction of completing all Projects successfully on schedule.  before shifting as Managing Director of Duke Offshore. From 1997 to-date he has been heading the Dubash group of companies, initial 5 yrs as CEO and now as Principal Advisor. Such has been the glorious career of RAdm DN Thukral in the Indian Navy and later in his second innings. We take a Bow, Sir. 


           Cdr Vijay Vadhera along with CMs of Powai decided to personally wish the Admiral at his Powai abode (D-201) on his most auspicious day on turning an Octogenarian on 08 Sep.

         Cdr Vadhera, Meena and I decided to rendezvous in D-402 residence of Cdr SK Patnaik. The drawing room is the domain of Mrs Atasi Patnaik and She has immaculately decorated it including a large wall cabinet housing the exquisite crystal ware. Cdr Srikant’s usp in the house is his museum room of Philately and Ancient coins and memorabilia that he has been collecting for the past few decades. He proudly showed us his prized possessions, after pouring us a single Malt to gently sip on.    

        We then descended 2 floor to ring the bell of the Birthday Boy. Admiral Thukral himself open the door and greeted each one of us with an infectious smile and a warm hug. Adm’s good lady Mrs Shama Thukral, their charming daughter-in-law Dr Tania Thukral (a famous Dentist, runs a Dental Clinic at Gelleria, Hiranandani Gardens), grand children Tanvir and Alisha warmly met us. Admiral showed us the large table-top illuminating ‘80’  that Tania had lovingly gifted and a memento and Saibaba's blessing gift that Cdr & Mrs Patnaik had presented him just past midnight. So thoughtful of Tania and Patnaiks indeed. Each of us were then served a drink of our choice.  

       Cdr Vadhera prior to presenting Octogenarian Mementos to the Admiral said, “It indeed give me great pleasure along with my committee members Cdr Raj Dutta, Cdr Kanan Ramdas and Cdr Srikant Patnaik to felicitate our most respected member of our Navy Foundation and senior Veteran Adm Dev Thukral on his 80th Birthday today 08 Sep, when he starts earning 20% extra pension. I’ ve known Adm Thukral for the past 40 yrs whilst in the Submarine Arm and also after I hung my boots and worked in a company where he too was working as my Head. He is very kind, very knowledgeable and always ready to help out his colleagues and juniors in rendering valuable advise for their good. He’s a heart-throb of any party, where he enjoys and makes others also enjoy. On this occasion Adm Thukral Sir, let me wish you many more to come and we celebrate your Birthday, whenever there is 20 % increase of your pension- 85 yrs, 90yrs, 95 yrs and when you score a century and start earning double the pension. All the best Sir, may God bless you with long and happy, healthy life. Thankyou”

       The grand celebrations commenced with presentation of CNS memento and the exquisitely designed NFMC’s Golden Sail boat to the Birthday Boy by President NFMC on behalf of all Veterans and Veer Naris. Mrs Guddy Ramdas then presented the book ‘Health Secrets to light 100th Candle’ authored by our NFMC Veteran Cdr Ashok Shinde. The delectable Cake slicing was a roar with a Sing-a-long session of the joyous Birthday song, (authored by Patty & Mildred) each one holding onto the special placards distributed by Tanvir and Alisha. The euphoria was unmatched. We marvelled at the marvellous display of Lifetime memories of the Admiral of his younger days, crafted by Tania, with attention to details. It was a wonderful evening of merry bonhomie at Admiral’s abode, albeit we did miss his Pilot Son, Capt Prabhu Thukral,  flying for Indigo had been away on his scheduled ferry flight. The other Son Rishi is settled in New Jersy along with better half Shilpa and their Son Ritik. Master Tanvir Thukral on his Dad’s footsteps aims to be a Commercial Pilot and had a long chat on the issue with me as I narrated to him episodes of my life in the Naval Aviation. Cdr Vadhera, Meena and I were the last to depart seen off warmly by our cheerful hosts.

   Dear Adm Dev Thukral Sir, here's wishing the youngest Octogenarian, on behalf of each member of Navy Foundation, hearty Congatulations on 8 decades of accomplished Life and Best Wishes for many many more years for spreading and sharing your wonderful smile, a rejuvinating Tonic for us. Its a blessing to be in your company, Sir. May you be blessed always in times to come.  

(Friends desirous of wishing the Admiral may contact him on Mob- 9821092116  email -

Sam No Varunah

Jai Hind

(Grateful to our photographer, Mrs Meena Dutta for photo credits of celebration and Video compilation)  





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Sunday 5 September 2021


         What a Proud moment for all the Navymen, past and present associated with Naval Aviation, as President of India awards President's Colour to Naval Aviation in Goa today 06 Sep 21, #67 yrs since its inception. Today, sure am I that all Veteran FLYNAVY boys, would be traversing backtrack in Time, into their individual Golden Eras on this August occasion. 

       Placed below is the Art-work by a Veteran Capt A Chatterjee in its honour. All aircraft past and present depicted. The Naval Aviation has accomplished 67 years of its glorious triumph. Elaborate arrangements had been executed for an impressive ceremony on the expansive Hansa dispersal, but rain-gods tried to play the spoil sport . Albeit the rain couldn't dampen the spirit of the flyboys and the event was accomplished immaculately and gracefully in the Hangar, as per Plan-B. (Videos attached below) 

 "A momentous occasion to recognise the rich contribution of generations of Flyers, techos, support staff and others associated with us who have made this possible. A worthy occasion to recollect the hard work, dedication, commitment and  sacrifices with great pride. May Naval aviation soar higher and continue to serve the navy and the nation with renewed vigour and zeal in the emerging  challenging maritime environment." said Commodore Sheshadri Vasan a Naval Aviation Veteran and the President of the Chennai Chapter of Navy Foundation.




        President Ram Nath Kovind awarded the President's Colour to the Indian Naval Aviation at a ceremonial parade held at the INS Hansa base near here in Goa on Monday. 

On the occasion, the President was given the guard of honour by the Indian Navy. President Kovind, who is on a tree-day visit to Goa, presented the President's Colour to the Naval Aviation in the presence of Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh. Goa Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, RAdm PG Pynumootil, FONA and others were present during the function at the INS Hansa base located in Vasco town, about 40 km from the state capital Panaji.

The President's Colour is the highest honour bestowed on a military unit in recognition of its exceptional service to the nation.

       The President's Colour consists of a 36 inch by 48 inch white ensign with the national flag in the canton and the state emblem embroidered in gold at the centre. The elephant, signifying strength, is placed diagonally opposite the national flag in the canton, a Naval spokesman said in a release.


               INS Hansa, located at Dabolim in Goa, boasted of being the largest Naval Airstation in Asia, until the commissioning of INS Rajali in 1992. The Naval Airbase has a Civil enclave that operates as Dabolim Airport under the control of Indian Navy. The Airstation was commissioned as INS Hansa on 05 Sep 1961 at Sulur with Vampire, Sea Hawks and Alize and shited to Goa in Dec the same year after liberation of Goa. The Airstation since then has been a home to the Sea Hawks and later Sea Harriers (now replaced by MIG29Ks), Kirans, Alizes(replaced by Dornier228), IL-38s, Kamovs-25/28s, Superconnies (replaced by TU-142s).  TU-142M had been shifted to Arrakonam on commissioning of INS Rajali, have since been phased out and replaced by Posidon P-8I. Besides the SAR flight 321 of Chetaks is housed in the first hanger along with a CG enclave.  The Indian Navy's Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF), which is a mock-up of the 283-metre INS Vikramaditya deck built on the airfield at Hansa is used to train and certify navy pilots of MIG-29K for operating from the aircraft carrier, and for the developmental trials of the naval HAL Tejas. This SBTF was designed by Nevskoye Design Bureau (NDB) of Russia for Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). The Airstation also boasts of a Naval Aviation Museum at the Southern end. Next year Hansa celebrates its Diamond Jubilee amidst great fanfare..

        I was privileged to fly the Superconnie in 1981-83. The Navy’s first long range Maritime Reconnaissance squadron was commissioned with five ex IAF Super Constellation aircraft on 08 Nov 76 in INS Hansa. Cdr RD Dhir was the commissioning Squadron Commander. I and my coursemate Gopa kumar had  flown the resilient Super-connie for 2 yrs in early 80s at INS Hansa Goa. Resilient, I mention, because in its sunset days with the Navy at Goa, the aircraft although seemed to display fatigue with malfunction of Hydraulics and misfiring of spark plugs, but always brought its crew back safely, after having tested their emergency actions…The aircraft gave some harrowing times to the poor Flight Engineer (FE) stationed behind the copilot, keeping an eye on the 72 sparkplugs of the 4 piston engines, on a scope that resembled an ECG monitor in an ICU..Either you could see the FE busy feathering one of the four engines, due to shorting of a sparkplug or pumping away the emergency hydraulic pump to get the undercarriage down, after an inadvertent drop of Hydraulic pressure due to a small leak somewhere on the old pipelines….DP Ashtekar, R Jayraman, MP Verma and IS Deen are some names that I recall, who ensured their good rapport with the spluttering engines coughing often nearing the fag end of their lives…. We were known as the mighty Albatrosses. The crew room of the mighty Albatrosses was a fun room with crew engaged in scrabble, chess and the never ending tea flowing in…Our  eversmiling  Snr ‘O’, Late Lt Cdr Rajesh Sharma  was  an instant  wit, who  heralded  the era  of  stand in  comedy…He once  stopped  Lt  Arya  in  the  sqn  corridor and  asked  him, “ Tu  Aa  riya  hai, ke Ja riya  hai ?” (Are you coming or going). Our  Snr Flt Engrr, Lt Jayaraman  had a quick fix solution for every thing under the Sun. Our Snr ‘P’ Lt Cdr Theograj (later Cmde), was mostly engrossed in his virtual world with his daily changing Novel in the briefing room, before the computers invaded the world and  made us realize that there is a real world around us. Lt Rakesh Saxena (later Cmde) with his baby face did make the crew room buoyant with his mere entry.  Our Sqn Cdr, Cdr Macaden (later Cmde), was a very soft spoken Officer, who owned a vintage car, but he was mostly seen under his car than inside it as it invariably broke down at the road approaching the wardroom area and  we  saw him trying out a spanner under it. Our request for pushing it was politely declined with a complementary smile. He was a humble man leading a rowdy pack. If ever there was Life in the Navy, Haminasto-Haminasto-Haminasto (it was here, it was here, it was here).  This was the same aircraft that was the pride of Air-India in the ’50s, before being handed over to the IAF. My perfect  Naval  Salute  to the  original Albatross  of the Naval  Aviation , the mighty  Super-Constellation.

        I had the added privilege of serving in INS Hansa on a second tenure to fly the IL-38s (INAS-315- the Winged stallions) from Jun 1990-Sep 1993.          When the cable TV had just entered the Indian Household in early 90s, Wg Cdr AS Bedi decided to produce and direct a Serial on the essence and ethos of Indian Navy with his team in Goa. He had the full support of the organisation. Those were the pre 9/11 days and security wasn't as tight. 'Samandar' was possibly the first commercial serial on our fine Navy. Wg Cdr Bedi casted most of the service officers and sailors as actors. Samir Soni was the main Lead, having done a professional course in acting. Apart from a few professional actors rest were the local inhouse talent. Its always a very sensitive duty to covey about the martyrdom of a service person to his wife/ mother.  Our Capt(Air), INS Hansa, Capt Sanjoy Gupta had an impressive short role, as CO of the Air station to convey the unfortunate demise of her only son, LtCdr Shyam to the mother, actress Vanita Malik. Most of the shooting for the serial was conducted at Naval Air Station Goa, where I had been appointed the Base LtCdr (Flying) and Sameer was cast as a young Naval Aviator…I along with Meena and kid had gone to the Naval Canteen on a Sunday afternoon where the shoot was in progress…Wg Cdr Bedi was quite amused by our year old Aakash and instantly cast him and Meena for a fire scene in which the Hero, Sameer rescues Aakash and hands him over to the mother…..Short scene, shot 25 years ago.


       The huge IL-38 was a hunter killer, that carried over 200 sonobuoys, not only to locate a submarine in a designated area after being dropped but also calculated its dirn and speed by the onboard sensors, to destroy the enemy’s silent prowler with 2 Plab bombs and an ATE1ME torpedo. The squadron had rendered yeoman service to the Navy with 25 yrs of Accident free flying. Alas, 01 Oct 2002 was the Squadron’s gloomiest Day. Even as it was celebrating it’s Silver Jubilee during noon time at the tarmac with a large gathering of Aviators both serving and Veterans. Two IL-38s flew past the crowd from west to east in a spectacular close formation at low level. A min later there was an emergency Siren from ATC, and all hell went loose. Both the Aicraft had a mid-air collision over Zuari and crashed taking along 12 winged stallions. Saddest Day in the history of Naval Aviation. An occupational hazard that left a deep scar for the Stallions. After 18 yrs the stallions are back on their feet with two replacement aircraft from Russia. The squadron has erected a War memorial ‘Prerna Sthal’ and commemorates 01 Oct every year as ‘Remembrance Day’ in honour of the 12 stallions it lost. The squadron has bounced back and excels on all fronts.


       The inscription on the War Memorial reads, “ Commissioned on 01 Oct’77 the Winged Stallions owe their genesis to the tactical acumen and vision of the Indian Naval Personnel, who realised the importance of having a long range MR ASW aircraft flying in support of Naval Task Force.The Squadron has rendered Yeoman service to the Indian Navy and has supported all Operations, Exercises and Intra-Navy ineractions to the Best traditions of the Service. Consequently the IL-38s post the Sea-Dragon upgrade is now capable of Long Range strike with KH-35E ASM and thus we have now become more Potent, more Lethal and a great Force multiplier.”  Senior Veteran Cmde RS Vasan, one of the commissioning aircrew and later its Sqn Cdr (now President NFCC) said, “The support for Prerna Sthal has ensured that successive generations are inspired by the hard work of those who lived for the Squadron and kept Navy’s Flag flying high. Naval Aviation is in safe hands.”   RAdm PG Philipose, NM (FONA) has decided to name two new multi-storied buildings ‘Prakash’ and ‘Shajimon’ in honour of the two Aircrew  senior sailors who went down with the aircraft.


        This year as INS Hansa celebrates its Diamond Jubilee, we the Naval Veterans wish the Premier Air Station of the Indian Navy, INS HANSA  many more glorious years ahead….May ‘Hansa’ scale new heights in its journey to seek new horizons.

The link to the President's Colour Award event placed below. Double click to view. 


Shano Varuna

Jai Hind.   



(Kindly double click the videos to play)