Tipu Sultan of Mysore and his naval power, South India

Tipu Sultan.

HMS Trincomalee Copper Bottom.savyboat.com
 Tipu or Tipu Sahib (November 1750  – 4 May 1799), a ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, was the eldest son of Sultan Hyder Ali (1721 1782) of Mysore. Besides being a valiant warrior and an innovative person, he was a good administrator and had a big army trained by the French military. He maintained close relationship with the French rulers under Napoleon and was an alley of the French forces in Southern India.  His  sworn enemy was the British East  India company officials  because  they were corrupt, diabolical and dishonest. He introduced  heat- resistant iron-cased  rockets that were successfully used against the British during the Mysore wars. The British forces were literally at a loss to tackle the menacing incoming missiles that caused havoc in the battle ground. The British rocket specialist in London used Tipu's rocket as a model to develop better long- range missiles. Tipu's rule encouraged the development of silk industry in Mysore. Mauludi 'lunisolar' calendar, coinage, naval base  and ship building yards on the west coat are some of his innovative achievements. On May 4th 1799 Tipu was killed on the battle field at Srirangapatna in the final war against the British forces led by Lord Mornington ( later Wellesley).  He fought against his sworn enemy till the last drop of his blood fell on his mother land.

.Tipu sultan radhikaranjanmarxist.blogspot.co

The British hated Tipu Sultan for the simple reason, they could not expand their domain  far beyond the south to the tip of Peninsular India. He was a powerful ruler to reckon with. Being dubious,  they worked out several plans to get rid of him for good. Tipu Sultan  had a powerful navy to coordinate with the military. In  1786, following his father's foot step,  he built a powerful navy consisting of  20 battleships of 72 cannons and 20 frigates of 62 cannons.  A separate Board of Admiralty was established in September 1786  and  massive dockyards at Jamalabad, Wajidabad and Majidabad were constructed on the west coast  to build 40 warships and a number of transport ships to strengthen the naval power. After the  conquest of the Malabar Coast,  Hyder Ali and Tipu got   possession of the famous ports and the ship-building yards of Malabar region. In 1790  Tipu appointed Kamaluddin as his Mir Bahar. He created a separate  board of admiralty  made  of 11 commanders in service of a Mir Yam. A Mir Yam had 30 admirals  under his command and each one of them had two ships.

With so many impending threats around,  the Marathas, British and Portuguese forces,  Tipu Sultan gave priority to the expansion of Naval power in case of thetas from the sea.  After succeeding his father, he paid particular attention to improving his naval strength and was in possession of effective war vessels. In those days world over, sea piracy was a menace and the targets were mainly mercantile ships. The sea piracy was very much there in the Arabian sea as it was an important sea route from other countries to Indian ports. One of the functions of Tipu's navy was not only to protect his interests but also other vessels owned by his allies.  Malik-al-Tujar or the Board of Trade was the chief administrator. During the Mysore war he realized how important it was to have a powerful navy that would function along with the army. The ships carried Tipu's symbol 'Tiger head'[. The timber that was available in plenty on the western ghat was used for building ships.

Tiger Head Finial, from Tipu Sultan's ...www.ibnlive.com

Being a maverick and believer in innovations, Tipu was very keen to try something useful that was not tried before. Tipu was the one who introduced a special kind of ocean going ship that  had a fairly long  life. What was special about his ships? By the year 1789, most of Tipu Sultan's ships had copper-bottoms, an idea that increased the longevity of the ships, was introduced  to Tipu by French Admiral Suffren. 

Tipu Sultan's Mausoleum, Mysore .www.cosmopolitancurrymania.com

Copper sheathing is the practice of protecting the under-water hull of a ship or boat from the corrosive effects of salt water and befouling through the use of copper plates affixed to the outside of the hull. It was pioneered and developed by the Royal Navy during the 18th century.  The problem of rusting in the bottom of the ship had been a major problem in those days because Ships' hulls were under continuous attack by ship worm and various marine weeds, all of which had some adverse effect on the ship, affecting speed and handling in the case of the weeds. The most common methods of dealing with these problems were through the use of wood, and sometimes lead, sheathing which was useful but it reacted badly with the bolts. Use of a mix of whale oil, rosin and brimstone was also common.  The use of copper sheathing  to solve rusting, etc was first suggested in 1708 by Charles Perry.

During the reign of Hyder Ali, a naval fleet was created, some including good ports and ship building yards. Tipu  employed  10,000 men to take care of his Navy and it operations.  The conquest of the Malabar Coast by Hyder Ali and Tipu and possession of the famous ports and the ship-building yards gave a fillip to ship building for navy.

Earlier, Hyder Ali  is reported to  have had a large fleet of  watercraft  built  at Honavar in 1763 which were destroyed by the British in 1768.  According to Portuguese records  Hyder Ali planned to build the most powerful fleet in Asia by 1778. In the early period in 1765  Mysore navy owned 30 war ships and many  transport ships. Many of them were operated by Europeans. Unfortunately, in 1780 British forces led by Admiral Edward Hughes inflicted heavy damages on them. Powerful navy gave the Mysore ruler extra safety for his country and subjects,