The Story Behind 4th December – Indian Navy Day

December 4, 2017 marks the 46th Indian Navy Day. On this occasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind, and other dignitaries extended their greetings to the Indian Navy.

History of Indian Navy Day:

Navy Day is celebrated to remember the attack by the Indian Naval Missile boats on Karachi harbor during the Bangladesh liberation war, on 4 December, 1971. The day also marks reverence of all the martyrs of that war.

This was also the time that Indian Navy had used anti-ship missiles for the first time during combat. The operation was codenamed as ‘Operation Trident’.

It was 3rd December of 1971 when the Bangladesh Liberation war just started. The then Navy Chief, Admiral SM Nanda chose to strike first and cut off naval supplies from Karachi harbor to East Pakistan (Bangladesh). The operation was led by Commander (Later Commodore) Babru Bhan Yadav, MC.

The missile boats – INS Nirghat, INS Nipat and INS Veer – docked at Gujrat were assigned to carry out the task. Each ship carried 4 SS-N-2B Styx anti-ship missiles of range 75 kms. They were backed by 2 anti-submarine corvettes – INS Kiltan and INS Katchall, and a fleet tanker – INS Poshak.

Their sister ship INS Vidyut was to remain on patrol off Dwarka to provide cover for the task force. The Petya class anti-submarine corvettes INS Kiltan commanded by Cdr KP Gopal Rao, MVC, VSM, and INS Katchall were to provide communications and indicate suitable targets with their superior radar as well as give anti-submarine cover.

Cdr Yadav, who was commanding INS Nipat, decided to strike the harbor at night and all set sail for the attack. At 10:45 pm on 3rd December 1971, INS Nirghat, which was commanded by Lt Cdr Inderjit Sharma spotted PNS Khaibar on its radar – 50 kms northwest to it, sailing towards the Karachi harbor.

Cdr Yadav authorized the launch of a missile towards the enemy ship. The missile struck the ship and the captain of the enemy ship thought it to be an air attack. The target was still afloat and it was spotted by Cdr Yadav from INS Nipat. He commanded the launch of second missile towards PNS Khaibar. This strike finally sunk the enemy boat, killing all 220 Pakistani sailors aboard.

Meanwhile, Cdr Yadav also spotted 2 targets on the radar of his INS Nipat. One was Merchant Vessel Venus Challenger and another was its escort, PNS Shahjahan. Lt Cdr Kavina, AVSM, VrC, on board INS Nipat, launched two more missiles, sinking the MV Venus Challenger and severely crippling PNS Shahjahan.

In the meantime, INS Veer, commanded by Lt Cdr OP Mehta, VrC, NM, spotted PNS Muhafiz and struck it with the Styx missile, sinking it on the spot and killing all 30 sailors aboard.

The next target was to fire a missile each at the Karachi Port by the three ships. But INS Nipat was the only one in close range of the harbor. Cdr Yadav chose to strike the oil reserves at the harbor, badly damaging the Pakistani navy’s fuel reserves.

The Pakistani Navy was still under the impression that it is an air attack. Just then, INS Nirghat noticed enemy aircraft on its radar. But it was too late for Pakistan to understand the scenario and strike back.

The mission was already accomplished by the valiant sailors of Indian Navy. Cdr BB Yadav chose to return back to base at Bombay harbor.

All this happed in just a time span of 1½ hour – from 10:45 pm, 3 December 1971 to 12:15 am, 4 December 1971.  Indian warships fired six missiles, all within 90 minutes, which resulted in sinking of 3 enemy vessels and a cargo ship carrying ammunition and also destroyed the fuel storage facility at the Karachi harbor.

Pakistani Navy suffered huge losses where its 4 ships were sunk and 2 badly damaged. The Pakistani Navy’s fuel reserves were also destroyed and harbor was badly damaged. The Indian Navy suffered no loss. The Indian Navy was now in control of the seas.

A recent movie – “The Ghazi Attack” – also displays a part of the undocumented operation of saving the Visakhapatnam port from Pakistani Navy.

And hence, 4 December is celebrated as Indian Navy Day to mark this occasion.

4th December:

The day is celebrated will full josh by showcasing Indian Navy’s prowess, technological progress and its achievements.

This year, top-notch innovations are put on display at the ‘Innovation Pavilion’ at the Navy House in New Delhi. They range from innovative repairs to complex system modules to development of new techniques that would save money, time and manpower, it added.

The innovations on display are by the INS Kuthar and INS Vikramaditya which have been selected as the winner and runner-up respectively in the ‘Operation Units’ category.

The innovations by the Weapons Electronic Systems Engineering Establishment (WESEE) and Naval Aircraft Yard, Kochi were selected as the winner and runner-up respectively in the ‘Shore Establishments’ category.

At the Gateway of India in Mumbai, the Indian Navy performed the Beating Retreat ceremony and also did a spectacular display of performances to enthrall the massive crowd.

Homage was paid at the Amar Jawan Jyoti. All three service chiefs were present at India Gate to celebrate the spirit of Navy Day along with others.

Every year, a theme is chosen to celebrate this day.

According to a press release –

“The Naval Institute of Aeronautical Technology (NIAT) conducts a community service from 24th-26th November. This is done as a community service at Good Hope Old Age Home in Fort Kochi. Here students from the Navy Children School Choir take part and entertain the residents.

The events are held to entertain the inmates as well as Navy doctors from INHS Sanjivani. The doctors also conduct medical check-ups of the inmates. Contests such as Navy Ball, Navy Fest and Navy Queen are held in order to celebrate this special day. The day also sees visitors like school children visit aircraft and warships of Indian Navy as they are made open for public viewing. At the Navy Fest, photojournalists from Ernakulum perform a military photo exhibition. Ships, placed along the coast, are also lit up. There are performances by the naval band as well.”

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