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Today India commemorates the 50th anniversary of iconic Operation Trident and salutes gallant Navy personnel who paralyzed Pakistan during the 1971 war. To celebrate the successful launch of Op Trident and recognise the role and achievements of the Indian Navy, Navy day is observed on December 4.

Here’s all you need to know about 'Operation Trident'

  • On December 3, 1971, the hostilities between India and neighbouring Pakistan erupted, prompting the Indian army to advance farther into East Pakistan (later Bangladesh). India took precautions to ensure that West Pakistan would not send any help, whether by land or sea.

  • The Pakistani Navy was headquartered at Karachi Harbour, and its entire fleet was stationed there. Karachi was also the centre of Pakistan's maritime trade. Blocking Karachi port would hamper the port's shipping and, unwittingly, provoke a Pakistani economic crisis.

  • An attack on Karachi port was planned by the Western Naval Command and Indian Naval Headquarters in Delhi. Intended to weaken and demoralise the Pakistan Navy, as the defence of Karachi harbour was crucial to Pakistan's security, a strike group was organised. It consisted of Vidyut-class missile boats that had already been developed off the coast of Okha.

  • Due to the radar and operational limitations of these boats, support vessels such as submarines and an oil tanker were assigned.

  • On the 4th and 5th of December 1971, the Indian Navy launched an offensive, code-named Operation Trident, against the Pakistani port city of Karachi. The port city received some of Pakistan's greatest defence, as well as support from strike aircraft deployed at two nearby airfields.

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  • The Indian task group for the operation had three Vidyut class missile boats from the 25th "Killer" Missile Boat Squadron, INS Nipat, INS Nirghat, and INS Veer, escorted by two anti-submarine Arnala class corvettes, INS Kiltan and INS Katchall, and a fleet tanker, INS Poshak.

  • Commander B.B. Yadav, the Commanding Officer of the 25th Squadron, led the task group aboard the INS Nipat.

  • INS Kiltan and the three missile boats reached Karachi on the evening of December 4, eluding Pakistani observation aircraft and surface patrol vessels.

  • Operation Trident, borne of the aftershocks of the 1965 war, put a damper on Pakistani shipping.

What happened after Operation Trident?

In response, the Pakistani Air Force launched an airstrike on Okha Port. However, the Indian Navy had already relocated assets such as missile boats to avoid any harm. Any invasion was thwarted by the destruction of a big specialised fuel tank.

The Pakistan Armed Forces were put on high alert as a result of Operation Trident.

A reconnaissance aircraft misidentified a Pakistani frigate as an Indian Navy missile boat, resulting in friendly fire. The warship was strafed by fighter jets, which resulted in certain casualties and damage. The frigate PNS Zulfiqar was eventually determined to be the alleged missile boat.

There were no losses on the Indian side, making the operation a tremendous success. It was considered to be one of the most successful naval operations since WWII. Following the end of Operation Trident, another naval offensive, Operation Python was launched three days later.

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