Vice Admiral (Retired) Manohar Prahlad Awati, one of the all time great officer of the Indian Navy breathed his last in his native village, Vinchurni in Satara district of Maharashtra early hours of Sunday at the age of 91. Vice Admiral MP Awati had headed the National Defence Academy and widely known as the father of Indian Navy’s circumnavigation adventures. Born on September 7, 1927, Vice Admiral MP Awati joined the Royal Indian Navy back in 1945. He specialised in signal communication and served on several ships of the Indian Navy including Ranjit, Vendurthy, Betwa, Tir and Mysore.
During the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, Vice Admiral MP Awati was the Commanding Officer of INS Kamorta. For fifteen odd days, the officer had successfully faced Pakistani operations. Acknowledging his leadership and gallantry, Government of India has awarded the Vice Admiral MP Awati with Vir Chakra. He was also a key figure for encompassing the projects pertaining to circumnavigation, right from the first solo adventure of Commander Dilip Donde in 2010 to the latest all-women crew on INSV Tarini, which completed its mission in early 2018.
In the official handle of Indian Navy on Twitter, the spokesperson, Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba wrote: “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.”
Union 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 destruction of an enemy submarine. An icon in naval history. My homage.”
Vice Admiral Awati served the National Defence Academy in Kadakvasala, a premier tri-services military training institution as a Commandant from March 1976 to July 1977. He had conceivably attended all the passing out parade of NDA till May this year. In 2015, Vice Admiral Awati gifted a Webley Revolver of .38 calibre to the NDA, apparently which was handed over to him as a token of surrender by two senior Pakistan Navy officers in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. The same has been preserved as a souvenir and showcased in the museum of INS Vikrant till 2015 and after that in the museum of the NDA.
Several other personalities also took to Twitter and condoled the death of the icon of Indian Navy. Subash Bhamre, Union Minister of Defence, 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.” As per the Vice Admiral’s wishes the last rights were performed at Vinchurni yesterday afternoon.