On May 6, the INS Magar, the nation’s first amphibious battleship, will complete her 36 years of illustrious service and ultimately lay down her oars. The INS Magar’s decommissioning ceremony is set to take place on May 6 at Kochi’s Southern Naval Command. The ceremony will be presided over by Admiral MA Hampiholi, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command.
INS Magar is an Indian Navy amphibious assault ship that mainly served as an expeditionary warfare unit. The INS Magar carries the navy designation Landing Ship Tank (LST), Large (L) due to its capacity to transport tanks and other armaments. It can transport more than 200 soldiers in various configurations, including eleven battle tanks, thirteen BMP infantry combat vehicles, ten trucks, and eight heavy motor vehicles. The ship also has four Landing Craft Assault (LCA) for launching amphibious assaults and an integral Sea King Helicopter for airborne operations.
This ship was commissioned by Admiral RH Tahiliani, Chief of the Naval Staff, on July 15 1987. Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Kolkata, built it. The ship is 120 metres long and has a beam of 17.5 metres.
The ship was a significant turning point for the Indian shipbuilding industry because it was the first ship of the Landing Ship Tank (Large) class and the first indigenously built ship with a gross register tonnage of more than 5000 (referring to the ship’s internal volume).
The literal meaning of ‘Magar’ is a crocodile in English. The Hindu mythological figure Makara is shown surfing the waves on the ship’s crest. The Makara is typically portrayed as having a half-crocodile as its forepart has a fish-like tail. It is believed that Makara was used as a ‘vahana’ (Vehicle) of Varuna, the Bhagwan of the sea and Ganga Mata.
The ship’s crest depicts the Hindu mythological character Makara riding the waves. The Makara is generally depicted as a half crocodile in the fore part with a tail of a fish. Makara is considered the ‘Vahana’ (Vehicle) of Goddess Ganga and the sea god Varuna.
INS Magar was extensively used during Operation Pawan in 1987 by Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) to take control of the Jaffna Peninsula (Sri Lanka) from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE).
This ship was used to contain the disaster caused by the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean on December 26 2004. It played an essential role in evacuating people and providing relief at the same time. The ship evacuated more than 1300 people from Andaman Nicobar Islands.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was part of ‘Operation Samudra Setu’ and evacuated Indian Nationals and provided medical relief to friendly foreign countries.