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Sourendra Nath Kohli (June 21, 1916 – January 21, 1997) was an Indian Navy admiral who served as the 9th Chief of the Naval Staff from March 1, 1973 until February 29, 1976.Kohli served as the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-IN-C) of the Western Naval Command during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 and was responsible for the crippling attacks on the Pakistan Navy fleet in Karachi. His prior commands include those as the commanding officer of INS Mysore (1939) and INS Rana.
Kohli was born in 1916 in Amritsar. He graduated with a B.A. (Honours) from St. Stephen’s College in New Delhi.
Kohli joined the Royal Indian Navy Volunteer Reserve as a cadet in May 1936, immediately after his graduation. He was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant in the RIN on June 25, 1938.
During World War II, Kohli served in the Persian Gulf and in the Far Eastern theatre. He qualified as a Communication Specialist in the United Kingdom in 1943. He served on board HMS Queen Elizabeth (1913) in 1944-45.
He was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in 1946 and served at the then RIN Naval Headquarters, HMIS Dalhousie.
After independence, Kohli opted to join the Indian Navy and was one of the key officers selected to oversee the expansion of the naval fleet. He was deputed to the United Kingdom in December 1948 in connection with acquisition of destroyers and was appointed Commanding Officer of INS Rana (D115) on her purchase from the Royal Navy in 1949.
Other appointments that Kohli held included those as the Senior Officer of the flagship of the Indian Navy, INS Godavari (D92). Later, he also served as the Commanding Officer of the flagship, INS Mysore (1957).
Kohli served as the superintendent of the Naval Dockyard in Bombay. He also twice served as the Director of Naval Plans. His staff appointments included those as Chief of Material and then as the Vice Chief of Naval Staff.
Kohli rose to Flag rank in August 1965. He was the Flag Officer Commanding of the Fleet from 1967 to 1969. Next, Kohli served as the Commandant of the National Defence College for two years until 1971.
On 12 February 1971, Kohli was appointed the Flag Officer Commading-in-Chief (FOC-IN-C) of the Western Naval Command. During the war with Pakistan in December 1971, Kohli provided operational leadership for the devastating attacks on Karachi harbour. He also led the defence of Indian Naval facilities on the west coast. He was also responsible for overseeing the safety of the Indian mercantile fleet during the war.
On 1 March 1973, Kohli took over as the Chief of the Naval Staff. He retired from the Navy on 29 February 1976
Kohli was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal in January 1968. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan for his exceptional leadership during the 1971 war.