Vice Admiral (retired) Manohar Prahlad Awati, an ultimate icon in the Indian Navy history, drew his last breath at 91 in his native village Vinchurni in Satara district in the wee hours of Sunday. Admiral Awati, who once commanded the National Defence Academy, was popularly referred as the father of ‘Indian Navy’s circumnavigation adventures.’
He was born on September 7, 1927. He developed an interest in joining the Indian Navy in his childhood. Much to his grit and determination, Awati was selected for the Royal Indian Navy in 1945. Being a specialist in signal communication, he plied his trade on Indian naval ships namely Ranjit, Vendurthy, Betwa, Tir and Mysore.
He was the proud commanding officer of INS Kamorta during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, and he boldly faced enemy operations for almost a fortnight. For his astute leadership traits and immense bravery, he was awarded the Vir Chakra.
Admiral Awati was highly involved in experimenting with more possibilities of bringing out the good end result as well as he is good at initiating projects of circumnavigation, since the first solo adventure of Commander Dilip Donde back in 2010 to the latest all-women crew on INSV Tarini, which finished its mission previously this year.
On the official Twitter account of the spokesperson of Indian Navy, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, said adding that, “Deeply regret to inform the sad demise of Vice Admiral MP Awati (retired) early this morning, at his hometown Vinchurni, Phaltan, near Satara. He was 91. A giant of a man, one of our tallest heroes and greatest icons. It’s truly the end of an era. May his soul rest in peace.”
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted, “Vice Admiral M P Awati (Retd) PVSM, Vir Chakra, passed away; was the commanding officer of a naval unit of the Eastern Fleet, December 1971. Captured three enemy ships carrying contraband goods. His actions led to the destruction of an enemy submarine. An icon in naval history. My homage.”
Admiral Awati was the top Commandant of the National Defence Academy between the period March 1976 and July 1977. He was someone who attended every passing out parade of the Academy till May this year. In 2015, Admiral Awati gave the NDA a Webley Revolver of 0.38 calibre, which was handed over to him as a token of surrender by 2 senior Pakistan Navy officers during the course of the 1971 War.
The revolver, which had been kept as a remembrance and displayed in the museum of INS Vikrant till 2015, is currently in the museum of the NDA which is a premier tri-services military training institution.
Minister of State for Defence, Subhash Bhamre, tweeted, “Deeply pained to know about the sad demise of Vice Admiral MP Awati (Retd), one of our tallest heroes and greatest icons. May his soul rest in peace. Deepest condolences with family.”
A senior Navy officer, who knew Admiral Awati through and through, said. “He was the embodiment of the ethos of the Indian Navy. He had a very warm personality. There was something in his personality and his endless enthusiasm towards the Navy and maritime history, as well as his interest and encouragement for circumnavigation adventures… it made the fraternity respect him and look up to him”.
Awati’s last rites were done at his native village Vinchurni on Sunday afternoon.
(With inputs from The Indian Express)