Remembering Late Lt Cdr N Madhavan Potti

Petya-Class-Frigate

Jojy Kunchattil [430/1972] remembers :

The Late Lt Cdr N Madhavan Potti, from the batch of 1973, was the ‘Executive Officer’ (the ‘Second-in- Command’) of warship INS Andaman (A Russian-built Petya class anti-submarine frigate ship, callsign P-74) when it sank in the turbulent waters of the Bay of Bengal on 21 August, 1990. The ship formed part of the eastern fleet and was engaged in routine exercises with the other ships, when she sprang a leak in its hull and soon was taking in water. The Executive Officer (NM Potti), the Engineer Officer and Electrical Officer, being the three HODs, formed the core of the ship’s NBCD team and so got actively involved in the damage control operations in the below-decks area. While the others rushed to get into liferafts and the sea-boats, these three got stuck below and either didn’t have time to come out of the sinking ship or, if they did have, their efforts were futile. The other fleet ships in the neighbourhood came to the rescue of INS Andaman and saved maximum crew, but these three officers went down with the ship.

Potti had suffered a major fracture on his right arm just two years earlier (due to a scooter accident) insomuch that, his right arm wasn’t in its peak efficiency. There were stories and unconfirmed reports that he did manage to jump out of the sinking ship and reached adjacent INS Himgiri, but couldn’t heave himself up the rope due to his injured right arm failing to take his weight. Attempts to assist/save him was rendered unfeasible due to general pandemonium, fading sunlight, choppy seas etc. Thanks to interest and involvement shown by Southern Naval Command, Kochi, Mrs. Geetha Potti, the young widow who was just six years into married life, was given succour through employment in SSKZM as Matron, a job which she still continues to hold with utmost dedication.Their son Jishnu Potti (a toddler then) subsequently passed out from SSKZM and is now a young smart lieutenant in the Indian Navy, proudly donning the white uniform that his dad too wore many years before.

Incidentally, I was cabin-mate to NM Potti in the same ill-fated ship INS Andaman in 1986 – 87, when both of us were young lieutenants. He was the GO (Gunnery Officer) and I the ASWO (Antisubmarine Warfare Officer). Being ‘Kazhaks’, we vibed well and stayed together through thick and thin.

He was an excellent human being, besides being “An Officer And A Gentleman“.

 

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5 Comments

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  1. V K Bhora. ex POME says:

    I am Vijender Bhora Ex POME from Ex INS Andaman
    16th MARCH 2015.AT 1600 HRS

    I SERVED IN ILL FATED SHIP INS ANDAMAN ALMOST 3.5 YEARS IN MY TWO TENURES. I AM THE EYE WITNESS OF SUNK SHIP INS ANDAMAN.ON THAT DAY OF ACCIDENT I WAS ON BOARD SHIP ONLY.I WAS WITH LATE LTCDR. NM POTTI IN COCHIN ALSO WHEN HE WAS IN THE RANK OF LIEUTENANT.I HAVE NEVER SEEN SUCH A POLITE,GUNNERY OFFICER IN MY 15 YEARS OF SERVICE.AFTER FEW YEARS I WAS AGAIN TRANSFERED TO INS ANDAMAN IN 1989 AND POTTI SIR RECOGNISED ME SAYING THAT YOU ARE POME BHORA.DURING SAILING PERIOD SIR USED TO CALL ME FOR SUPPLY OF FRESH WATER FOR TAKING BATH. WHEN SOME PROBLEM WITH HIS SCOOTER POTTI SIR USED TO CALL ME FOR RECTIFICATION.POTTI SIR HAD SOME PROBLEM IN HIS RIGHT HAND. POTTI SIR WAS THE FIRST OFFICER TO COME DOWN TO ASP COMPARTMENT WHEN FLOODING STARTED AT ABOUT 1530 HRS AND I ALSO JOINED THEM.THE WHOLE NIGHT POTTI SIR COULD NOT TAKE REST WHEN WE WERE ON TOWING. ALL THE HOD LIKE LO,EO AND EXO WERE ON FREQUENT ROUNDS IN THE NIGHT ALSO.POTTI SIR ALONG WITH CDR ASHOK DIWAN WERE ENCOURAGING SHIPS COMPANY.AROUND 1350 HRS NEXT DAY WHEN SHIP WAS SINKING POTTI SIR WENT DOWN BELOW TO CLEAR SOME SAILORS WHO WERE IN TCR. I CAN NOT FORGET THAT SCENE OF SINKING SHIP AND 15 CREWS INCLUDING POTTI SIR.03 OFFICERS,6 SENIOR SAILORS AND 6 JUNIOR SAILORS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES. I HAVE SO MANY MEMORIES FROM THE YEARS I SPENT WITH HIM . I FEEL GREAT TODAY THAT I HAVE A CHANCE TO CONNECT WITH HIS SON. AFTER MY SURVIVAL I WAS SHOCKED TO HEAR THAT POTTI SIR IS NO MORE.EMOTIONALLY I COULD NOT CONTROL MYSELF AND STARTED WEEPING.
    POTTI SAHAB AMAR RAHE
    MY CELL NO IS 09990099849 AND 09990099850

    JAI HIND

  2. Bhushan Tiwari, Ex-CHSWA, INS Andaman says:

    I served in the ill-fated ship for over 3 years. Potti Sir’s entire tenure as the Executive Officer of the ship was with me. I got transferred out of the ship just about Two & a half months before the ship sank. Sir used to jokingly ask me to get him also transferred out with me. I used to take good care of him especially during the 8 pm night rounds at sea in choppy seas. I shared a great time with him during our tenures.

    He was the best Gentleman Officer I ever served under.

    I have so many memories from the years I spent with him. They are my cherished memories. I always feel for him. I feel great today that I have a chance to connect with his SON & share all the wealth of personal & professional memories. My mobile number is 09573913801.

    Jai Hind

  3. CDR (RETD) PC PANDA says:

    I handed over the duties of Executive Officer to Lcdr Potti before I proceeded to take over command of a ship. I knew him earlier being same specialist officer – Anti Submarine Warfare Officer. A fine gentleman, very soft spoken and humble. I am glad to know that his son has joined his father’s profession. I wish him all the best .
    CDR (RETD)PC PANDA

  4. Thank you Joji uncle….wud like to know more about dad since i dont have any memory about him….thanks a lot!!!owe u a lot!!

    • The Kazhakian says: (Author)

      Dear Jishnu,
      Warm wishes of the New Year to you and your loved ones. Thank you so much for passing through and taking your time out to leave your thoughts. Its an absolute joy to see that the fond tribute helped you reconnect in its own little way to the Lt Cdr N Madhavan Potti. Have passed on your message to Sri Jojy Kunchattil and can be certain of hearing from him soon. Warm regards..the K90 Admin team

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