Indian Navy Day 2018: Operation Trident and its impact on the 1971 war
New Delhi, Dec 4: Today is Navy Day and it is celebrated to honour Operation Trident which was an offensive operation launched by the Indian Navy on Karachi during the 1971 war. Navy Day is also celebrated to honour the role played by the Indian Navy in securing the country's marine borders. The Navy plays an important role in maintaining peaceful relations with its neighbouring countries on the maritime front. Not only this, it also provides help in times of natural disasters like floods, cyclones, and tsunamis.
Both the President and the Prime Minister took to Twitter to extend their greeting to the Navy personnel on this occasion.
"On Navy Day, my good wishes to all men and women of the Indian Navy. Nation is proud of your commitment to protecting our maritime frontiers, securing our trade routes, and providing assistance in times of humanitarian emergencies," tweeted President Ram Nath Kovind.
"Navy Day greetings to all valorous personnel of the Indian Navy and their families. India is grateful to our Navy for protecting the nation and the commendable role the Navy plays during disaster relief," PM Modi tweeted.
As Indian Air Force began bombing Pakistani bases, the Western Naval Command decided to attack Karachi, a major port city in Pakistan and headquarters of Pakistani Navy. Operation Trident saw the first use of anti-ship missiles in combat in the region. The operation was conducted on the night of 4-5 December and inflicted heavy damage on Pakistani vessels and facilities.
Towards the end of 1971, there were rising tensions between India and Pakistan, and after Pakistan declared a national emergency on 23 November, the Indian Navy deployed three Vidyut-class missile boats in the vicinity of Okha, near Karachi, to carry out patrols.
The Indian Naval Headquarters (NHQ) in Delhi, along with the Western Naval Command, planned to attack the Port of Karachi. A strike group under Western Naval Command was formed for this mission. This strike group was to be based around the three Vidyut-class missile boats already deployed off the coast of Okha.
As planned, on 4 December, the strike group reached 250 nautical miles (460 km; 290 mi) (nmi) south off the coast of Karachi, and maintained its position during the day, outside the surveillance range of the Pakistan Air Force. As Pakistani aircraft did not possess night-bombing capabilities, it was planned that the attack would take place between dusk and dawn.
After verifying two targets in the area northwest of Karachi, at 11.00 pm, INS Nipat fired two Styx missiles - one each at cargo vessel MV Venus Challenger and its escort PNS Shah Jahan, a C-class destroyer. Venus Challenger, carrying ammunition for the Pakistani forces, exploded immediately after the missile hit, and eventually sank 23 nmi south of Karachi. The other missile targeted Shah Jahan and damaged the ship very badly. At 11.20 pm, PNS Muhafiz, an Adjutant-class minesweeper, was targeted by INS Veer. A missile was fired and Muhafiz was struck on the left side, behind the bridge. It sank immediately before it could send a signal to the PNHQ, killing 33 sailors.
Meanwhile, INS Nipat continued towards Karachi and targeted the Kemari oil storage tanks, placing itself 14 nmi (26 km; 16 mi) south of the Karachi harbour. Two missiles were launched; one misfired, but the other hit the oil tanks, which burned and were destroyed completely, causing a Pakistani fuel shortage. The task force returned to the nearest Indian ports.
Soon the PNHQ deployed rescue teams on patrol vessels to recover the survivors of Khaibar. As Muhafiz sank before it could transmit a distress call, the Pakistanis only learned of its fate from its few survivors who were recovered when a patrol vessel steered towards the ship's burning flotsam.
With no casualties on the Indian side, this operation was considered to be one of the most successful in modern naval history post-World War II. To mark this victory, the Indian Navy annually celebrates Navy Day on 4 December. (Source - Wikipedia)