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Remembering Operation Trident, Indian Navy's act of bravado

The Indian Navy Celebrates Navy Day To Commemorate The Victory Of The 1971 War And The Naval Action At Karachi Harbour On Dec 4, 1971

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Gautam Lalotra | Updated on: 04 Dec 2016, 12:17:38 PM
INS Chennai, India's indigenously designed guided missile destroyer - File Photo

New Delhi:

Each year on December 4, the Indian Navy celebrates Navy Day to commemorate the victory of the 1971 war and the naval action at Karachi Harbour on Dec 4, 1971, and respect the martyrs of the war. 

This day marks the success of the Operation Trident of Indo-Pakistani War in 1971. In this operation Indian Navy sank three Pakistani vessels near the largest Pakistani port of Karachi. Operation Trident also had resulted in first use of anti-ship missiles in the Arabian Sea region.

Operation Trident and its follow-up Operation Python, were the Indian naval offensive operations launched on Pakistan's port city of Karachi by the Indian Navy during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971

So let us get deeper insights into Operation Trident, the success of which is celebrated as  Navy Day

Timeline of Operation Trident

Dec 4, 1971 - Two Petya class Frigates,  INS Katchall (under Cdr. KN Zadu) and INS Kiltan (under Commander. G Rao) sailed with the Missile Boats to form the Trident Force. They set sail for Karachi. The plan was to sail westward and then northwards to reach Karachi by midnight.

Dec 4, 1971 -  At around 0700 hrs in the morning, four Hunter aircrafts of the IAF led by Wing commander Das, flew low over the Karachi Coast. They Flew along the coast and then suddenly gained height over the Kermari Oil tanks. They sprayed them with their rockets and canons.

Dec 4 -  1500 hrs: The Trident Task Force was steaming towards Karachi in an Arrowhead formation. They were anxiously scanning the Sonar for Pakistani submarines and keeping a sharp lookout. The missile boats switched on their Rangout Radars. They could now be picked up anytime. 

At 2243 hours on Dec 4, the radar on the Nirghat picked up a big ship on Port bow. The target was PNS Khyber, a destroyer of Pak Navy. The first missile had homed in onto the target with precision and hit her on the starboard side — she lost propulsion. PNS Khyber transmitted a Mayday Signal saying it had been hit by enemy aircraft. The second missile had slammed into her boiler room. There was a sheet of flame and the ship broke into two and sank. The panic-stricken crew began to jump overboard. 

The Khyber now sank like a rock. In quick succession the missile boats picked up the Merchant ship Venus challenger ( carrying ammunition for the Pak Army) and the Pakistan Navy Minesweepr  Muhafiz. Missiles were fired and both these ships were sunk.

Cdr Yadav now sailed close to the Karachi Harbour- picked up the oil Tanks and Fired a missile. It hit the first oil Tank. Symapathetic explosions started and soon the whole oil complex was on fire. The Karachi oil farm in fact burnt for a week and blotted out the sun.

The Task force now turned around and returned full speed to Mumbai. It had executed its daring mission without a scratch! This was unprecedented in the annals of Naval warfare. Not content to rest on its laurels the Indian Navy repeated this deadly feat just four days later .

It attacked Karachi Harbour again, sank another three Ships (PNS Dacca and  Merchant ships Harmattan  and Gulf star) and for the second time set the Keamari oil tanks on fire. In close concert with this attack the Indian Air Force Canberra bombers attacked the Masroor air field and prevented the PAF from interfering with this naval operation.

The Daring Naval strikes on the home base of the Pakistani navy epitomized the highest level of military valour and courage.

Commader. (later Commodore. BB Yadav) was awarded the Mahavir Chakra and three of the Missile boat commanders won the Vir Chakra.

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First Published : 04 Dec 2016, 11:42:00 AM