As India celebrates its 47th Navy Day today with the fascinating annual Beating Retreat and Tattoo ceremonies at the Gateway of India, we commemorate a remarkable victory in the history of Military of Independent India.
Navy Day is celebrated to mark the success of the audacious naval operation, known as Operation Trident, carried out by the Indian Navy during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. The operation was carried out on the night of Dec 4 by inflicting a ravaging attack on the Karachi port where the headquarters of the Pakistani Navy was located. Just the night before, Pakistan had attacked six Indian airfields.
It was planned that India would launch the attack at night as the Pakistani air crafts lacked night bombing capabilities. The strike team positioned itself at 250 nautical miles south of Karachi to avoid the range of Pakistani radar. The ship crews communicated in Russian, making it difficult for the Pakistani vessels to intercept the transmissions between the attacking vessels.
At around 10:40 pm, INS Nirghat attacked the Pakistani ship PNS Khaibar with its first Styx missile. A baffled Pakistani Navy assumed it to be an aircraft fire and responded with their anti-aircraft guns. PNS Khaibar transmitted the wrong position of their ship which delayed the help from their rescue teams and gave more time to the Indian strike team to attack. The vessel finally sank after another blow from the Indian side. None on the ship survived.
Two other vessels of the Pakistani Navy, PNS Muhafiz and PNS Shah Jahan were also destroyed by the Indian Navy. India suffered zero casualties during Operation Trident while inflicting gravest injuries on Pakistan. With INS Nipat, INS Nirghat, INS Veer, two submarines and a tanker, Indian Navy sank two Pakistani warships while damaging a third one. Operation Trident saw the first use of anti-ship missiles in combat in the region.
After the remarkable success of Operation Trident, Indian Navy launched another attack on the Pakistani Navy on December 8. This operation was called “Operation Python“. This time two Pakistani fleet tankers sank. The Indian Air Force then attacked the fuel and ammunition depots of Karachi. ‘Karachi burned for seven days,’ in the words of Admiral SM Nanda. The attack proved lethal for Pakistan’s economy as it reportedly destroyed more than 50% of the total fuel requirement of the Karachi zone. The loss of fuel which was estimated to be worth $ 3 billion also affected the Air Force of Pakistan.