An untold tale of heroism: Operation Trident

By: Ishika Lohani

Indian Navy- a word that symbolizes excellence, resolute faith and immense courage.


India has always been on the top graded discussion regarding its navy warfare. The Indian Navy has always believed in going the extra mile and leaving no stone unturned. One such history written by our brave hearts is that of the atomic bomb of 1971, better known as “Operation Trident”.


The year 1971 was proven as one of the most deadliest years for the civilians residing in East Pakistan (today known as the Bangladesh) as the Pakistani army perpetrated widespread violation of human rights. A report by BBC news stated that about 3 million civilians had died due to selective genocide and around 10 million people had hit the borders of India for acceptance in the country as refugees. Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister of India, had given magnanimous help to the refuge seekers and had camps set up as a helping hand for them. India declared support for the Awami League (ait was an political organization having and had moderate socialist ideology), opened the East Pakistan border and the Border Security Force offered aid to the Bengali resistance force (the Mukti Bahinis). India also launched a global diplomatic offensive to help liberate Bangladesh.

After the involvement of India in the emancipation of East Pakistan, embittered Pakistan planned for an ambush on some of the refugee camps located in West Bengal. The surprise attack went in vain as India

retaliated successfully.

Pakistan, no sooner, lined up a second attack headed by the Pakistan combat Air Fforces. This caused heavy damage to the Indian Air Force as a sum of nine Indian air fields were struck on the western borders ofn the country. This infelicity had broken the war clouds and declared the official war between India and Pakistan.


The role of the Indian nnavy wasn’t far now; they were all set on planning a triumph against Pakistan’s navy which was acting as a mediator in supplying war equipment from West Pakistan to East Pakistan.

 On 3 December 1971, the OSA-I missile boats; INS Nipat, INS Nirghat and INS Veer sailed towards the Karachi Harbour from the coastlines of Mumbai.

 On the following day, the base of the Trident team which included the INS Katchall (under the control of Cdr. KN Zadu) and INS Kiltan (under the control of Commander. G Rao) assembled with the OSA-I missile boats and were successfully hauled at the control core of the Pakistani Navy- the Karachi Harbour.

The Indian battleships assembled themselves in an arrow- shaped formation. The next strategy was to avoiding the exposure from the enemy which was followed by varying the course ranges with the radar inputs from INS Khiltan. The communication that took place between the crewmembers was mainly in the Russian language which facilitated in eliminating the sight of enemy range. To avoid recognition, it was decided that the operation would be executed during the night hours so that their escape could be untroubled. At 22:43 hours, the radar on INS Nirghat picked up a big target — PNS Khaiber, a destroyer in the Pakistan Navy. This was soon followed by the detection of two more targets,; PNS Shah Jehan and merchant vessel Venus Challenger (carrying ammunition for the Pakistani Army).

The three OSA-I missile boats launched their final missiles (setting the whole harbour complex on fire) before turning around and heading full speed towards Bombay.



On 7 December 1971, the Indian ships sailed back to the coastlines of Bombay and were welcomed with salutes and praises for their brave act. It was reported that six missiles had been brought down along with three powerful ships of the Pakistani Navy and that the Karachi Harbour had been set ablaze without any Indian casualty.

Later, the Pakistani Navy decided to launch a retaliatory act just after 4 days afterof the success of Operation Trident. But little did they know that India had prepared itself for the sequels.

The Pakistani battleships headed their way towards the coastlines of Bombay, where, to their surprise, India launched an ambush attack, which sunk three more battleships of Pakistan and once again, the oil tanks were set up on fire. This operation was named as the “Operation Python”.

These two operations were not only a turning point in the war between India and Pakistan but they also put a standstill to the supply of war ammunitions from West Pakistan to East Pakistan (now known as Bangladesh).


Through this intrepid act, the Indian Navy had once again set an example in the pages of history and brought the entire world to stand upon their feet.

As aIn tribute to these courageous men who pulled off one of the greatest victories in Indian naval history,  every year December 4 has alsohas been been celebrated as Navy Day ever since. annually.