Royal Indian Navy

The Royal Indian Navy (RIN) was the naval force of British India and the Dominion of India. Along with the Presidency armies, later the Indian Army, and from 1932 the Indian Air Force, it was one of the Armed Forces of British India.

Royal Indian Navy
Active1612 – 26 January 1950
Country British India
Size~9,600 personnel[1][2]
EngagementsSeven Years' War
American War of Independence
Napoleonic Wars
Anglo-Burmese Wars
First Opium War
Second Opium War
First World War
Second World War
Naval Ensign (1879-1928) & Naval Jack (1928-1947)
Naval Ensign (1928-1950)

From its origins in 1612 as the East India Company's Marine, the Navy underwent various changes, including changes to its name. Over time it was named the Bombay Marine (1686), the Bombay Marine Corps (1829), the Indian Navy (1830), Her Majesty's Indian Navy (1858), the Bombay and Bengal Marine (1863), the Indian Defence Force (1871), Her Majesty's Indian Marine (1877) and the Royal Indian Marine (1892). It was finally named the Royal Indian Navy in 1934. However, it remained a relatively small force until the Second World War, when it was greatly expanded.

After the partition of India into two independent states in 1947, the Navy was split between Pakistan and India. One-third of the assets and personnel were assigned to Royal Pakistan Navy. Approximately two thirds of the fleet remained with the Union of India, as did all land assets within its territory. This force, still under the name of "Royal Indian Navy", became the navy of the Dominion of India until the country became a republic on 26 January 1950. It was then renamed the Indian Navy.


East India Company

1612–1830, the Bombay Marine

The East India Company was established in 1599, and it began to create a fleet of fighting ships in 1612, soon after Captain Thomas Best defeated the Portuguese at the Battle of Swally. This led the Company to build a port and to establish a small navy based at Suvali, in Surat, Gujarat, to protect its trade routes. The Company named the force the 'Honourable East India Company's Marine', and the first fighting ships arrived on 5 September 1612.[3]

This force protected merchant shipping off the Gulf of Cambay and the rivers Tapti and Narmada. The ships also helped map the coastlines of India, Persia and Arabia.[4] During the 17th century, the small naval fleet consisted of a few English warships and a large number of locally built gunboats of two types, ghurabs and gallivats, crewed by local fishermen. The larger ghurabs were heavy, shallow-draft gunboats of 300 tons (bm) each, and carried six 9 to 12-pounder guns; the smaller gallivats were about 70 tons (bm) each and carried six 2 to 4-pounder guns.[5] In 1635, the East India Company established a shipyard at Surat, where they built four pinnaces and a few larger vessels to supplement their fleet.[6]

In 1686, with most of the English commerce moving to Bombay, the force was renamed the "Bombay Marine".[3] This force fought the Marathas and the Sidis and took part in the Anglo-Burmese Wars. While it recruited Indian sailors extensively, it had no Indian commissioned officers.[4]

Commodore William James was appointed to command the Marine in 1751. On 2 April 1755, commanding the Bombay Marine's ship Protector, he attacked the Maratha fortress of Tulaji Angre at Severndroog between Bombay and Goa. James had instructions only to blockade the stronghold, but he was able to get close enough to bombard and destroy it.[4]

In February 1756, the Marine supported the capture of Gheriah (Vijaydurg Fort) by Robert Clive and Admiral Watson, and was active in skirmishes against the French, helping to consolidate the British position in India.[4] In 1809, a fleet of 12 ships of the Marine bombarded the city of Ras al-Khaimah, a pirate stronghold, in an unsuccessful attempt to quell Arab piracy. A subsequent mission in 1819 with 11 vessels proved successful in blockading the city for four days, after which the tribal chieftain surrendered. In 1829, the "Bombay Marine" received the additional name of "Corps", and also received its first steam-powered vessel in that year, the SS Hugh Lindsay of 411 tons. Steaming from Bombay on 20 March 1830, Hugh Lindsay reached Suez after 21 days under steam, at an average speed of six knots.[7]


In 1830, the Bombay Marine was renamed the "Indian Navy". The British capture of Aden increased its commitments, leading to the creation of the "Indus Flotilla". The Navy then took part in the First Opium War of 1840.[4] By 1845, the Indian Navy had completed the conversion from sail to steam.[7]

In 1848, an Indian Navy contingent of 100 ratings and seven officers took part in the Siege of Multan during the Anglo-Sikh War.[8] In 1852, at the outset of the Second Anglo-Burmese War, ships of Her Majesty's Indian Navy joined a Royal Navy force under the command of Admiral Charles Austen to assist General Godwin in the capture of Martaban and Rangoon.[9]

Direct British rule in India

After the end of Company rule in India following the Indian rebellion of 1857, the force came under the command of the British government of India and was formally named "Her Majesty's Indian Navy".[4]


Her Majesty's Indian Navy resumed the name "Bombay Marine" from 1863 to 1877, when it was renamed "Her Majesty's Indian Marine" (HMIM). The Marine then had two divisions; an Eastern Division at Calcutta and a Western Division at Bombay.

In recognition of its fighting services, HMIM was given the title of "Royal Indian Marine" in 1892. By this time it consisted of over fifty vessels.[10] In 1905, the service was described as having "Government vessels engaged in troop-ship, surveying, police or revenue duties in the East Indies".[11]

When mines were detected off the coasts of Bombay and Aden, during the First World War, the Royal Indian Marine went into action with a fleet of minesweepers, patrol vessels and troop carriers. Besides patrolling, the Marine ferried troops and carried war stores from India to Mesopotamia (now Iraq), Egypt and East Africa.

The first Indian to be granted a commission was Engineer Sub-Lieutenant D. N. Mukherji, who joined the Royal Indian Marine as an officer on 6 January 1923.[12]


In 1934 the Royal Indian Marine changed its name, with the enactment of the Indian Navy (Discipline) Act of 1934. The Royal Indian Navy was formally inaugurated on 2 October 1934, at Bombay.[13] Its ships carried the prefix HMIS, for His Majesty's Indian Ship.[14]

At the start of the Second World War, the Royal Indian Navy was small, with only eight warships. The onset of the war led to an expansion in vessels and personnel described by one writer as "phenomenal". During the War, the Women's Royal Indian Naval Service was established, for the first time giving women a role in the navy, although they did not serve on board its ships.[13]

The sloops HMIS Sutlej and HMIS Jumna played a role in Operation Husky, the Allied invasion of Sicily.[15]

Mutiny of 1946

In February 1946, Indian sailors launched the Royal Indian Navy Mutiny on board more than fifty ships and in shore establishments, protesting about alleged discrimination against Indian sailors and officers by the British during the war.[16] The mutiny found widespread support and spread all over India, including the Army and the Air Force. A total of seventy-eight ships, twenty shore establishments and 20,000 sailors were involved in this mutiny.

Independence and Partition of India, 1947

Following India's independence in 1947 and the ensuing partition, the Royal Indian Navy was divided between the newly independent Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan, and the Armed Forces Reconstitution Committee divided the ships and men of the Royal Indian Navy between India and Pakistan. The division of the ships was on the basis of two-thirds of the fleet to India, one third to Pakistan.[17]

The committee allocated to the Royal Pakistan Navy (RPN) three of the seven active sloops, HMIS Godavari, HMIS Hindustan and HMIS Narbada, four of the ten serviceable minesweepers, two frigates, two naval trawlers, four harbour launches and a number of harbour defence motor launches. 358 personnel, and 180 officers, most of whom were Muslims or Europeans, volunteered to transfer to the RPN. India retained the remainder of the RIN's assets and personnel, and many British officers opted to continue serving in the RIN.[13]

On 26 January 1950, when India adopted its current constitution and became a republic, the Royal Indian Navy was renamed the Indian Navy. The Union Jack in the canton of the White Ensign was replaced with the Tiranga. Its vessels were redesignated as "Indian Naval Ships", and the "HMIS" ship prefix for existing vessels was changed to 'INS'.[18]

Commanding officers

Director of HM Indian Marine (1876–1892)

  • Captain H.W. Brent RN (1876–1883)
  • Captain John Hext RN (1883–1892)[19]

Director of the Royal Indian Marine (1892–1928)

No. NameTook officeLeft officeTime in officeRef
Hext, JohnRear-Admiral
Sir John Hext KCIE
1892February 18986 years
Goodridge, Walter SomervilleCaptain
Walter Somerville Goodridge CIE
(30 March 1849–2 April 1929)
5 March 18985 March 19046 years, 0 days[20][21][22][23]
Hewett, George HayleyCaptain
George Hayley Hewett CIE
(12 November 1855–1930)
5 March 190417 March 19095 years, 12 days[24]
Lumsden, WalterCommodore
Walter Lumsden CIE, CVO
(16 April 1865–22 November 1947)
17 March 190912 June 19178 years, 87 days[25][26][27][28]
Wilson, Neville Frederick JarvisCaptain
Neville Frederick Jarvis Wilson CMG, CBE
12 June 191727 August 19203 years, 76 days[29][30][31]
Mawbey, Henry LancelotRear-Admiral
Henry Lancelot Mawbey CB, CVO
(16 June 1870–4 June 1933)
28 August 19203 August 19221 year, 340 days[32][33][34]
Headlam, Edward JamesCaptain
Sir Edward James Headlam CSI, CMG, DSO
(1 May 1873–14 July 1943)
3 August 19224 October 19286 years, 62 days[35][36]

Flag Officer Commanding and Director, Royal Indian Marine (1928–1934)

No. NameTook officeLeft officeTime in officeRef
Walwyn, Humphrey ThomasVice-Admiral
Sir Humphrey T. Walwyn KCSI, CB, DSO
5 October 19282 October 19345 years, 362 days[36]

Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy (1934-1947)

No. NameTook officeLeft officeTime in officeRef
Walwyn, Humphrey ThomasVice-Admiral
Sir Humphrey T. Walwyn KCSI, CB, DSO
2 October 193416 November 193445 days[37][38]
Bedford, Arthur Edward FrederickRear-Admiral
Arthur Bedford CB, CSI
16 November 193423 November 19373 years, 7 days[38][37][39][40]
Bedford, Arthur Edward FrederickVice-Admiral
Sir Herbert Fitzherbert KCIE, CB, CMG
23 November 193719 March 19435 years, 119 days[41][40]
Godfrey, John HenryAdmiral
John Henry Godfrey CB
19 March 194315 March 19462 years, 361 days[37][42]
Miles, Geoffrey AudleyVice-Admiral
Sir Geoffrey Audley Miles KCB, KCSI
15 March 194615 August 19471 year, 153 days[41]

Commander-in-Chief, Royal Indian Navy (1947-1950)

No. NameTook officeLeft officeTime in office
Hall, John Talbot SavignacRear Admiral
John Talbot Savignac Hall CIE
15 August 194714 August 1948365 days
Parry, William EdwardVice Admiral
Sir William Edward Parry KCB
14 August 194825 January 19501 year, 164 days

Partition of ships, 1947

Vessel type India Pakistan
Survey vessel
  • HMIS Investigator
  • HMIS Nasik
  • HMIS Calcutta
  • HMIS Cochin
  • HMIS Amritsar
  • HMIS Shillong
  • HMPS Rampur
  • HMPS Baroda
Motor minesweeper(MMS)
  • MMS 130
  • MMS 132
  • MMS 151
  • MMS 154
  • MMS 129
  • MMS 131
Motor launch (ML)
  • ML 420
Harbour Defence Motor Launch (HDML)
  • HDML 1110
  • HDML 1112
  • HDML 1117
  • HDML 1118
  • HDML 1261
  • HDML 1262
  • HDML 1263
  • HDML 1266
Miscellaneous All existing landing craft

See also


  1. Goldrick, James Vincent Purcell (1997). "The Pakistan Navy (1947-71)" (PDF). No Easy Answers: The development of the navies of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka (1945-1996) (1st ed.). London, UK: Lancer Publishers. p. 270. ISBN 9781897829-028. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  2. According to Rear Admiral Goldrick, one-third of the Navy personnel went to join the Pakistan Navy, which was about ~3200 personnel, while overwhelmingly two-thirds of the personnel were retained in the Indian Navy after the partition. One-thirds of the ~9,600 is ~3,200.
  3. Harbans Singh Bhatia, Military History of British India, 1607-1947 (1977), p. 15
  4. Charles Rathbone Low, History of the Indian Navy: (1613-1863) (R. Bentley & Son, 1877)
  5. Rear Admiral Satyindra Singh AVSM, Under Two Ensigns: The Indian Navy 1945-1950 (1986), p. 36
  6. Singh 1986, p. 40
  7. Rear Admiral Satyindra Singh AVSM, Under Two Ensigns: The Indian Navy 1945-1950 (1986), p. 40-41
  8. Rear Admiral Satyindra Singh AVSM, Under Two Ensigns: The Indian Navy 1945-1950 (1986), p. 42
  9. Edmund Burke, ed., The Annual Register of the Year 1852 (Longmans, Green, 1853), p. 283
  10. Genesis at Archived January 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  11. Archibald Greig Cowie, The sea services of the empire as fields for employment (1905), p. 246
  12. D. J. E. Collins, The Royal Indian Navy, 1939-45, vol. 1 (Bombay, 1964), p. 8
  13. Bhatia (1977), p. 28
  14. D. J. E. Collins, The Royal Indian Navy, 1939-45, vol. 1 (Bombay, 1964)
  15. Inmed Archived January 24, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  16. Christopher M. Bell, Bruce A. Elleman, Naval mutinies of the twentieth century: an international perspective (2003), p. 6: "The first navy to experience a major mutiny after the Second World War was the Royal Indian Navy. For five days in February 1946, Indian sailors rose up against their predominantly British officer corps: approximately 56 ships..."
  17. Bhatia (1977), p. 28: "Consequent on the partition of the country on 15 August 1947, two thirds of the undivided fleet and associated assets came to India."
  18. Indian and Foreign Review, vol 3 (Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Publications Division, 1965), p. 65: "The residual part which continued as the Royal Indian Navy had to face many problems, specially regarding personnel. On India becoming a republic on January 26, 1950, the Navy dropped the word "Royal" in its name and became the Indian Navy."
  19. "India Office Records".
  20. "Walter Somerville Goodridge ( - 1929) - Find A Grave Memorial".
  21. The London Gazette, 1 January 1901
  22. "Lot 596, Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (30 March 2011) - Dix Noonan Webb".
  23. Wadia, A. R. (1957). The Bombay Dockyard and the Wadia Master Builders. p. 86.
  24. "Officers of the Royal Indian Marine". The Navy List: July 1908. HM Government, UK. July 1908. p. 439.
  25. "Officers of the Royal Indian Marine". The Navy List: January 1918. HM Government, UK. January 1916. p. 489.
  26. "Officers of the Royal Indian Marine". The Navy List: January 1920. HM Government, UK. January 1920. p. 1158.
  27. Who's Who, 1948, pp 1703-1704
  28. Administration Report: Bombay Port Trust 1916-17. Government of Bombay. 1917. p. 81.
  29. "Officers of the Royal Indian Marine". The Navy List: January 1920. HM Government, UK. January 1920. p. 1158.
  30. "Officers of the Royal Indian Marine". The Navy List: November 1920. HM Government, UK. November 1920. p. 1168.
  31. Administration Report: Bombay Port Trust 1916-17. Government of Bombay. 1917. p. 81.
  32. Sridharan, K. A Maritime History of India (2nd Edition). Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India.
  33. The London Gazette, 23 June 1922
  34. "Henry Lancelot Mawbey".
  35. "E-H. HEADLAM".
  36. "The Royal Indian Marine". The Times. 7 June 1928.
  37. "HyperWar: The Royal Indian Navy (Appendix 6)".
  38. "Royal Navy: Command of Indian Navy". The Times. 16 November 1934.
  39. "RootsWeb: MARINERS-L Re: [Mar] Arthur E F Bedford".
  40. "The Royal Indian Navy". The Times. 9 March 1937.
  41. "World War II unit histories & officers".
  42. "Vice-Admiral Godfrey's New Post". The Times. 19 March 1943.

Further reading

  • Charles Rathbone Low, History of the Indian Navy: (1613-1863) (R. Bentley & Son, 1877)
  • Harbans Singh Bhatia, Military History of British India, 1607-1947 (1977)
  • Collins, D.J.E. The Royal Indian Navy (1964 online official history
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.