When Indian Navy is Celebrated
4th December every year.
Why Indian Navy Day is Celebrated
Indian Navy Day is celebrated to recognize the achievements and role of the Indian Navy to the country. 4 December was chosen as on that day in 1971, during Operation Trident, the Indian Navy sank four Pakistani vessels including PNS Khaibar, killing hundreds of Pakistani Navy personnel. On this day, those killed in the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 are also remembered.
Various events take place during Navy Week with the finale on Navy Day. On this day the warships and aircraft of the Indian Navy are open to visitors such as school children. The Military Photo Exhibition is also performed by photojournalists of the Ernakulum in the Navy fest.
The theme for 2021 is Indian Navy – Combat Ready, Credible and Cohesive.
What is Operation Trident
Operation Trident was an offensive operation launched by the Indian Navy on Pakistan’s port city of Karachi during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. 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. While India suffered no losses, Pakistan lost a minesweeper, a destroyer, a cargo vessel carrying ammunition, and fuel storage tanks in Karachi. Another destroyer was also badly damaged and eventually scrapped.
Operation Trident : Prelude
The bombardment of Dwarka by Pakistan in the 1965 war sowed the seeds for operation Trident. The Indian navy realized the importance of offensive actions. Admiral S.M. Nanda swore that he would make the biggest bonfire of Karachi if war came again.
When it was quite evident that war with Pakistan was inevitable, the navy started working upon offensive plans. Admiral Nanda knew Karachi like the back of his hand as he spends his entire childhood there and started his career from Karachi port.
Karachi port was the major threat to Indian vessels. It was the most important and only naval harbour of Pakistani Navy. So destroying it was a necessity. But destroying Karachi was not that easy. It was heavily defended by 16-inch coastal batteries along with close air support from the Pakistani airforce.
The newly accquired Osa class missile boats were the only option for this operation. They were heavily armed, had state of the art radars and missiles and most importantly were very fast with top speed of 40 knots.
Operation Trident : Attack
As Pakistan bombed the airfields on 3rd December, the final go-ahead for the operation trident was given. The trident formation consisted of 3 Osa class missile boats INS Nipat, INS Nirghat, and INS Veer, and two Petyas INS Kiltan and INS Katchall. The Osa boats were part of the No. 25 missile boat squadron. The Trident formation was placed under the command of Commander BB Yadav. The three Osa boats were towed to the coast of Diu to conserve their engine hours, from where they were joined by the Petya. Interestingly the idea of towing came when these boats were towed from Kolkata to Mumbai during their delivery.
The Osa boats along with the Petya frigates moved silently in the moonlit light towards Karachi. At 2243 hours on 4th December, INS Nirghat established radar contact with a large vessel. It was indeed Pakistani Battle class destroyer PNS Khaiber. Commander Yadav gave the orders to fire the first missile of Nirghat. In Russian osa means wasp. Just like a wasp the SSN 2B Styx anti-ship missile stung PNS Khaiber. Amidst the confusion, onboard PNS Khaiber, whose sailors mistook the missiles as aircraft, made mayday calls and relayed wrong coordinates. Meanwhile, a second missile struck Khaiber and sent it to its watery grave.
The incorrect coordinates further delated rescue operations. The survivors of Khaiber became a delicious dinner for the sharks of the Arabian sea. The entire crew of 222 men was lost. Coincidentally PNS Khaiber was the ship that bombed Dwarka in the 1965 war and interestingly became the first ship to be sunk in the 1971 war. What goes around….. comes around! The next radar contact was made by INS Nipat at 2300 hrs. What seemed to be a single dot on radar were actually PNS Shah Jahan escorting the merchant Ship Venus challenger which was bringing much-needed ammunition for Pakistani forces. Nipat fired two missiles, one at each of them. Venus Challenger became a ball of fire and sunk immediately. PNS Shah Jahan was damaged beyond repair but managed to remain afloat.
The Trident formation moved towards Karachi. The next contact was made by INS Veer at 2321 hrs. It was PNS Muhafiz, a wooden minesweeper. Muhafiz became INS Veer’s first prey. Its crew was ironically burnt to death in the middle of a sea. The trident formation when 14 nautical miles from Karachi harbour, fired its remaining Styx missiles at Kemari Oil Reserve. The Oil Tanks exploded burning the entire facility.
With this Commander BB Yadav passed the message ” Angaar” to Naval HQ, which meant success of operation trident.