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Navy Day 2020: Why India remembers Operation Trident every year on December 4

The Navy plans to celebrate 2021 as ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ as part of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the victory in the 1971 War.

One of the missile boats which participated in the historic Op Trident, during a missile firing.

Every year, India celebrates December 4 as Navy Day to commemorate Operation Trident – a key offensive during the 1971 India-Pakistan War, when the Indian Navy inflicted heavy damage on Pakistani vessels in Karachi harbour. The same day also marks the end of Navy Week, which, too, is celebrated annually.

The Navy plans to celebrate 2021 as ‘Swarnim Vijay Varsh’ as part of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the victory in the 1971 War.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday, “Navy Day greetings to all our valorous navy personnel and their families. The Indian navy fearlessly protects our coasts and also renders humanitarian assistance in times of need. We also remember India’s rich maritime tradition over centuries.”

What happened during Operation Trident?

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The India-Pakistan War of 1971 had begun on December 3, when the Pakistan Air Force launched pre-emptive strikes on airfields in Western India. India responded by formally declaring war in the wee hours of December 4. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram

On December 4, under Operation Trident, the Indian Navy sank three vessels near the Pakistani port city of Karachi. The stars of the mission were the then-recently acquired Soviet Osa missile boats, fitted with 4 SS-N-2 (P-15) Styx missiles.

India-Pakistan 1971 war: 13 days that shook the subcontinent

INS Kiltan, Katchall, Nipat, Nighat and Veer sank PNS Khaibar killing 222 Pakistani sailors, and PNS Muhafiz killing 33 Pakistani sailors – and a merchant ship, MV Venus Challenger. The Indian Air Force also played a crucial role during Operation Trident, when Karachi’s Kemari oil tanks were strafed by the IAF on the same day in an independent operation which it did not claim.

On December 5, the Indian Navy’s Western C-in-C, Vice Admiral SN Kohli received the code word “Angaar”, which meant success in Operation Trident.


The 1971 War ended on December 16, as India sealed its victory when the instrument of surrender was signed by Lt Gen A A K Niazi of Pakistan with Lt Gen J S Aurora watching, at Dhaka at 4.55 pm that day. That remains the abiding image of the 1971 War.

Timeline of the 1971 War

Dec 3: The Bangladesh Air Force (formed with Indian assistance in September that year consisting of revolting Bengali officers and airmen of the Pakistan Air Force) destroys Pakistani oil depots; Pakistan attacks India; India formally joins the war.

Dec 4: Battle of Longewala; Indian naval attack on Karachi

Dec 7: Jessore, Sylhet liberated

Dec 8: Indian air attack on Murid airbase

Dec 11: Hilli, Mymenshingh, Kushtia and Noakhali liberated. USA deploys USS Enterprise in Bay of Bengal

Dec 13: USSR sends in warships to counter Enterprise


Dec 16: Mitro Bahini takes Dhaka, East Pakistan Army surrenders unconditionally, Bangladesh is liberated

Dec 22: Provisional government arrives in Dhaka from exile

First published on: 04-12-2020 at 21:09 IST
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