Indian Navy

Revealed 1971: Indian Naval Operations On East Pakistan- Part I

India is celebrating the 50 years victory of the Indo-Pak war also known as the Bangladesh Liberation War. The ideal coordination among all the forces and Intelligence agencies led to the landslide victory of India. We will know about Indian Naval Operations in East Pakistan. Initially, India didn’t involve in the rift of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), the unprecedented attacks of the Pak Army and Airforce made India enter into the war.

In this article, we will look through the role of the Indian Navy particularly in the Eastern front. Many of us know about Operation Trident and Operation Python, the Indian Navy Day is celebrated on December 4 to embark on the successful operations of Operation Trident on the Karachi Port on Dec 4.

Indian Navy operations 1971
Operation Trident: Indian Missile Boat from 25th Missile Boat Squadron

The role of the Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal was immense. During the course of the war, Naval ships established the Logistical blockade in the Bay of Bengal and ensured there was no Supply to the Pakistani forces in East Pakistan.

The Naval Operations on East Pakistan

INS Vikrant Secrecy

Based on the intelligence reports, Vice Admiral N Krishnan, Eastern Naval Command Chief ordered the INS Vikrant and its escort ships to sail towards the Andaman Islands. Huge rations were purchased from the Vishakapatnam market and a large quantity of fuel was stored. This huge amount of purchase of rations and fuel was to make sure that Pakistani forces believe that INS Vikrant was in Vishakapatnam Harbour and even the Pakis also believed the same.

Old INS Vikrant
INS Vikrant during 1971 operations

The Pakistan Navy sent the PNS Ghazi submarine under the command of Commander Zafar Muhammed Khan to the Bay of Bengal for hunting down the INS Vikrant Aircraft Carrier. The Indian Navy was having enough information that PNS Ghazi had already sailed out from Karachi Harbour and would arrive near Vishakapatnam soon. Sensing this trigger of war, INS Vikrant was made war ready with minimum sources at the Andaman Islands.

The Sinking of PNS Ghazi

The Pakistani Naval Submarine Ghazi entered the Indian Waters near Vishakapatnam and began to lay the underwater mines off the coast. Around midnight of 3-4 Dec, the Indian Navy dispatched the INS Rajput to hunt down the PNS Ghazi. INS Rajput commanded by Lt Cdr Inder Singh Malik continued to send false signals and faked its presence as INS Vikrant. The sonar of INS Rajput sensed the unusual underwater signals and two submarine depth charges were released.

PNS Ghazi 1971
Voyage of PNS Ghazi from Karachi to Visakhapatnam

The PNS Ghazi sunk around midnight 3-4 December due to Depth charges. Although there are many speculations around the sinking of PNS Ghazi. Some famous rumours are, Ghazi sunk due to Internal Batteries failures and some people guess that PNS Ghazi sunk due to crossing of underwater mines laid by it.

The explosion of PNS Ghazi was so intense that the shock waves were sensed half a mile away from the coast. Even INS Rajput experienced the intensity of the explosion and the shock wave caused little damage to the giant ship.

The Next day Indian Navy sent INS Akshay and the deep divers team led by Lt Cdr Sajjan Kumar Dahiya confirmed that PNS Ghazi has sunk. The divers also recovered the clock of PNS Ghazi which had stopped exactly at 12:15 am when INS Rajput had released the Depth Charges. Hence, INS Rajput was successful in Bluff the PNS Ghazi and sinking it.

Clock of PNS Ghazi
Recovered clock from PNS Ghazi

Read more about: The Sinking Of PNS Ghazi- A Mystery

The Pakistani Air Force launched unprovoked attacks on the Indian Airbases. Now India entered into war and wrote the victorious history in the legacy.

Launching of Naval Operations

The note of the then Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Nanda said,

“Pakistan has committed unprovoked aggression against us and our defence forces have been ordered to meet this challenge with full courage and determination. My objective is to search and destroy Pakistani warships and along with sister services to inflict maximum damage on the enemy war machines. No sacrifice should be too much for us. Let us write a new chapter in the history of our services.”

INS Vikrant commanded by Captain Swaraj Prakash, MVC moved towards East Pakistan with its escorts INS Bhramaputra and INS Beas accompanied by the submarine fleet.

The first air attack was launched against East Pakistan on 4 December 1971, the formation of 8 seahawks from INAS 300 Squadron “White Tigers” carried out the attacks on Coax Bazar in East Pakistan. The White Tigers Squadron was commanded by Lt Cdr S. K. Gupta. Similar air attacks were carried out on 4 December evening on Chittagong Harbour damaging the maximum fleet of Pakistani Navy, Ammunition Depots and Oil Reserve.

In the further days, many air attacks and Naval blockades were carried out at multiple locations. We will glance at these courageous attacks in the Second Part of Indian Naval Operations on East Pakistan.

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Amaranath Siddaraddi

Global Defence and Military Aviation Geek | Recommended Candidate 21 SSB

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