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Indian and Bangladesh Naval Battles

Soviet cogitations: 312
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 27 Jan 2018, 23:49
India is no communist nation, yet it is (nominally) a socialist state. How such definition fit the current Indian society with its contradictions and problems is not part of this text, however it is interesting to stress how during the Cold War India was officially a neutral nation yet with significant ties with the Soviet Union and the Second World. This was especially true during ‘60s and ’70s years when India embraced first an anti-colonial campaign against Portugal, and later engaged in two consecutive wars with Pakistan. While USA openly armed and supported Pakistan, the Soviets contributed in providing the Indian Navy with innovative vessels and (after the first successful action in Arab Wars) fully introduced the concept of missile boats for surface battles in modern naval warfare.
The victories in 1971 war has been among the most brilliant Soviet-designed vessels naval victories and it is no surprise that during the conflict the Soviet Navy was in state of alert dispatching a task force to counter a similar US naval task force in the Indian Ocean, both monitoring the situation and showing political support.

Differently from India, post-war Bangladesh only briefly attempted to pursue a socialist-oriented policy (such legacy survive on paper, with Bangladesh self-declaring a “People’s Republic” and nominal references to Socialism in constitution). This attempt was quickly over, turning Bangladesh into a multi-party state and resulting in series of bloody coups often resulting in the assassination of the previous president. Nowadays little changed and Bangladesh still experience extreme poverty and recurring Islamic terrorism.
While India pursued a powerful Blue-Water Navy with geostrategic ambitions in late Cold War and recently as a balance of power (against Pakistan and China), the Bangladesh Navy is unexpectedly powerful and numerous (2 submarines, frigates and corvettes etc.) but with little realistic necessity and the whole military is plagued by corruption forcing military expenses in view of widespread poverty.



18 December 1961
Battle of Mormugao harbor.
During the operation against the Portuguese forces to liberate Goa, the enemy had the sloop NRP Alfonso de Albuquerque that as attacked by the Indian frigates INS Betwa and INS Beas. The enemy ship was outnumbered and was forced to fight into a restricted position: she suffered multiple hits, was grounded and abandoned by crew that had suffered 5 killed and 13 wounded. After observing the battle, the Portuguese patrol boat NRP Sirius was scuttled to prevent capture. It was the first (and so far only) significant victory (full large ship lost) scored by an Asian nominally social nation versus a European colonialist power.
NRP Alfonso de Albuquerque was quite old, entered in service in 1935 and armed with four 120mm guns. The Indian frigates were of British Leopard class.

On the same day, off Diu Island. The Portuguese patrol boat NRP Vega engaged the more powerful Indian cruiser Delhi and suffered light damages due an exchange of gunfire. Hours later, the patrol boat sailed again just to be intercepted by a couple of Indian aircraft Vampire that strafed her with 20mm guns (killing captain and one sailor): the ship sunk while other crewmembers swam to the shore and were captured.
The action of INS Delhi was the last (so far) action of a socialist or communist nation cruiser resulting in damage to the enemy.
Cruiser INS Delhi was a former British Leander class light cruiser, Portuguese Navy lost patrol boats Sirius and Vega during the liberation, while a third ship (NRP Anteras) escaped.


7 September 1965
Operation Dwarka
Pakistany Navy carried an offensive operation against the coastal town of Dwarka.
It was the solely offensive surface action ever committed by the Pakistani Navy (and thus is still today celebrated), despite having achieved little to nothing.
Cruisers PNS Babur, destroyers PNS Khaibar, PNS Jahangir, PNS Badr, PNS Alamgir, PNS Shah Jahan and PNS Tipu Sultan shelled the city for few minutes with fifty shells each.
Most of the shells landed on muddy soil, failing to explode: only minor damage caused on a cement factory and on a building attached to a railway station, without inflicting casualties or damages to real military targets.
The passive attitude of the Indian Navy (motivated by having many ships on refit and political orders to restrain warfare to air and ground war), was later criticized and become a turning point of the following modernization of the navy with active Soviet support.
Cruiser PNS Babur, the only cruiser of the Pakistani Navy and former British ship, never had the chance to face her Indian rivals INS Delhi and INS Mysore.

22 September 1965
Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi made a torpedo attack against the Indian destroyer INS Brahmaputra, but all torpedoes missed. It is one of the few submarine torpedo attacks after WW2. The former American submarine was probably the most formidable Pakistani naval asset, but she achieved nothing during her career before the sinking in 1971 war.

The US-backed Pakistani regime, kept nominally control over Bangladesh (“East Pakistan”) despite the cultural differences and the desire of self-determination of the Bengali people.
The resistance struggle of the Mukti Bahini, while focused on the national independence, heavily backed by India and received political support (and indirect support) by Soviet Union and other socialist countries.
The operations involved a quite interesting use of naval warfare, including frogmen actions with limpet mines reportedly inflicting heavy losses to the Pakistani troops.
It should be stressed that the US-backed Pakistani Army engaged in a brutal genocide of Bengalese people (up to 3 million people killed, while western sources try to downplay at “just” 300.000 – 500.000) the repression include also indiscriminate mass-rapes of 200.000 – 400.000 women: an action openly backed by Pakistani Islamism scholars and imam claiming it was “legit” by Islamic views. Such mass-rapes continued during the 1971 war when the United States openly backed Pakistan and deliberately ignored the widespread reports.

26 April 1971
During a Pakistani offensive on Barisal, the Pakistan Navy employed its patrol boats to disembark troops.
Mukti Bahini forces onboard the steamer MV Ostrich engaged the patrol boat PNS Rajshahi, scoring machineguns hits and wounding the commander, but the steamer received multiple 40mm and eventually finished off by
F-86 fighter-bombers of the Pakistani Air Force.

5 May 1971
Pakistani patrol boats sunk three boats manned by Mukti Bahini at Gabura.

16 August 1971
Operation Jackpot
Mukti Bahini frogmen made a coordinated attack with limpet mines on four different Pakistani-controlled harbors in Bangladesh.
Chittagong harbor: merchant MV Al-Abbas, MV Hormux and the barge n°6 sunk and claimed the damage or sinking of 7 other ships.
Chandpur harbor: 3 ship claimed damaged or sunk (unclear details)
Narayanganj harbor: 4 ships claimed sunk or damaged
Mongla harbor: 6 ships claimed damaged.

The actual losses inflicted are unclear, Bengalese sources claim that for the overall period between August and December, frogmen sunk or damaged the unlikely number of 126 vessels sunk or damaged.
Other sources lower the number to 65 vessels sunk or damaged. While these numbers appears somewhat exaggerated, it is not disputed that frogmen indeed sunk or damaged a number of Pakistani vessels, causing logistic problems to the enemy. NOTE: while high casualties are likely, for neutrality sake a specific research of individual naval losses still lack in the international literature.

22 September 1971
Pakistani merchant Shapta Dinga sunk with limpet mine attached by Mukti Bahini frogmen.

24 September 1971
British merchant Teviotbank damaged with limpet mine attached by Mukti Bahini frogmen.

4 November 1971
Pakistani tanker Mathab Javed-II (771 GRT) sunk with limpet mine attached by Mukti Bahini frogmen (later raised).

22 November 1971
Greek merchant Chrysovalandou sunk with limpet mine attached by Mukti Bahini frogmen.

23 November 1971
Greek merchant Mastro Stelius sunk with limpet mine attached by Mukti Bahini frogmen.



4/5 December 1971
Operation Trident.
The Indian Navy launched a main strike against the harbor of Karachi.
The spearhead of the assault were three missile boats of the Soviet-made project 205 “Moskit” class.
The units were: INS Nipat, INS Nirghat, INS Veer.
They were escorted by the Soviet project 159 class corvettes INS Kiltan and INS Katchall. There was also on sea the fleet tanker INS Poshak.
INS Nirghat launched her first missile against the enemy destroyer PNS Khaibar, scoring one hit: a second missile finished the destroyer that sunk. 289 crewmembers were killed.
The destroyer was the former British HMS Cadiz, of Battle class. Photo show ship in British service

Shortly later, INS Nipat spotted two targets and launched one missile each: both scoring their target.
The transport Venus Challenger suddenly exploded (it was carrying American ammunition from Saigon), while the destroyer PNS Shah Jahan was badly damaged. Even if she didn't sunk, the vessel could not be repaired and was scrapped after the war.
The destroyer was the former British HMS Charity, of C class. Photo show the ship while in British service

Then it was the turn of INS Veer, targeting the enemy minesweeper PNS Muhafiz that was struck with a missile and disintegrated.
Photo of sister-ship PNS Munsif. The units were of the American Adjutant class, built for Pakistan.

INS Nipat launched her last two missiles aiming at the oil storage tanks of the Karachi harbor: one missile missed, but the second one struck the tank, causing a large explosion and a fire that burned the tanks.
The battle proved to be a significant Indian success, giving credit to the Soviet-designed ships and naval strategy and effectively winning the naval warfare for India.

6 December 1971
Still shocked for the Operation Trident, the Pakistani attacked their own frigate PNS Zulfiquar into a friendly fire incident, bombing her with aircrafts. The incident showed the incredible shock suffered from the Pakistani. Ship was former British HMS Deveron, a river-class frigate.

8 December 1971
Indian frigate INS Talwar sunk with gunfire a Pakistani intelligence craft. Scarce details of the target’s identity. Frigate was built in England, a modified Type12 (Whitbey class).

8/9 December 1971
Operation Python
The Indians decided to repeat the feat achieved by Operation Triton.
This time it was sent just a single missile boat: INS Vinash of Soviet project 205 class.
The frigates INS Talkwar and INS Trishul (both former British Whitby class frigates) escorted her.
The missile boat launched her 4 missiles at the same time: the first missile struck fuel tanks, the second missile hit and sank the Panamas fuel tanker Gulf Star. The third missile damaged beyond repair the Pakistan fleet tanker PNS Dacca, while the fourth one damaged beyond repair the British merchant Harmattan(9236 GRT). The operation resulted in huge damages to the enemy, due the loss of fuel.
The significant success, paired with the previous Operation Trident, remarked the success of the Soviet designed missile boats and their use in warfare.
Photo of a Soviet project 205 unit: the innovative ship were designed to sink larger NATO warships with multiple launches of missiles, but the successes during this war surprised even the Soviet, with full-kills achieved by 1 or 2 hits and ships like INS Vinash achieving multiple kills.

9 December 1971
Pakistan took its revenge when submarine PNS Hangor launched two torpedoes, sinking the Indian frigate INS Khukri that was on ASW patrol. 192 crewmembers were killed. The victory was also a slim satisfaction after the huge losses suffered earlier. Significantly, it was the first of the three post-WWII successful submarine attacks (followed by the Argentinian General Belgrano cruiser sunk by British submarine in Falkland War and finally by the South Korean corvette Cheonan sunk by North Korean submarine). The loss of INS Khukri however, did not change the balance of naval warfare nor the course of the war.
PNS Hangor was a French-built submarine of Daphne class with modifications for Pakistani Navy
INS Khukri was a British Type 14 (Blackwood class): she carried no major gun, relying only in anti-submarine "Limbo" system and anti-air defensive 40mm artillery.


3 December 1971
Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi was sunk. Indian credit victory to the destroyer INS Rajput, that reported a big explosion after 2 depth charges were launched. Pakistani sources claim it was due internal explosion or accidental detonation of mine she was laying. 92 crewmembers were killed. If the Indian claim is confirmed, it is the only confirmed post-WWII submarine sunk in warfare, so far. The Indian destroyer was the former British Rothertham of R-class, the submarine was the former updated American submarine Diablo of Tench Class.

NOTE: The following actions occurred on the Eastern Area resulted into a number of Pakistani patrol boats sunk without Indian losses. A number of such victories scored by the aircrafts based from the Indian carrier INS Vikrant. The carrier had onboard British-made fighters Hawker Sea Hunter and French-made piston ASW light bombers Breguet Alizé
The INS Virkant was a significant asset of the Indian Navy. Effectively India was the first (nominally) socialist state to possess a proper aircraft carrier, before Soviet Union, and effectively using her in warfare, sinking a number of targets with her aircrafts. Unsurprisingly Pakistani Navy intended to sink her with submarines.

4 December 1971
Four Indian Sea Hawks fighters attacked off Chittagong and heavily damaged the Pakistani patrol boat PNS Rajshahi (1 KIA, 6 WIA) with 20mm but managed to sail back in port, other 9 aircrafts focused on the sister-ship PNS Comilla, sinking her. Rajshahi was the only Pakistani vessel to escape from Bangladesh (sailed to Malaysia). These two victories were the first-ever successful victories scored by a nominally socialist state with aircraft carrier (before this, could only be mentioned the victories scored by Soviet small seaplane-carrier in 1929 against China).

5 December 1971
Indian Alizé aircrafts sunk Pakistani patrol boats PNS Salamat and PNS Shahbaz with rockets.

6 December 1971
Indian Sea Hawk fighters attacked and sunk patrol boat PNS Sylhet (with rockets) and claim a “gunboat” (unclear identity).
NOTE: other sources report the loss of PNS Sylhet and PNS Jessore on 4 December 1971 but on different location of PNS Rajshahi and PNS Comilla.
Other Sea Hawks sunk with mixed weapons the Spanish merchant Ondarroa (9107 GRT) (cargo of jute, 4 wounded), the Greek merchant Thetic Charlie and the Ethiopian merchant Lightning.

8 December 1971
Indian sources report frigate INS Brahmaputra sunk four different Pakistani patrol crafts at Chittagong. It is unclear if the victims were proper Pakistani patrol boats (as shared victories with the numerous air attacks by carrier INS Vikrant) or smaller crafts manned by Army or police.
The claim of INS Brahmaputra remains unconfirmed.

9 December 1971
Indian Sea Hawk fighters attacked and sunk patrol boat PNS Balaghat, Pakistani merchants Mustali (5670 GRT) and Makran (1198 GRT) and two LCT landing crafts (unclear identity) (with rockets)
Danish merchant African proctor (396 GRT) also lost for unclear cause.

10 December 1971
Indian Sea Hawk fighters sunk merchants Nordpol and Ocean Enterprise.

On the same day
The only two proper warships operated by the Bangladesh resistance movement Mukti Bahini, the BNS Padma and BNS Palash suffered a friendly-fire air attack by Indian aircrafts and sunk.
Both vessels (British Ford class, provided by India) were of similar size compared to the Pakistani patrol boats: this explain the reason of the mistake.

11 December 1971
Indian Alizé aircrafts hit Pakistani patrol boat PNS Jessore: ship beached and recovered only post-war by Bangladesh.
NOTE: other sources report the loss of PNS Sylhet and PNS Jessore on 4 December 1971 but on different location of PNS Rajshahi and PNS Comilla.

12 December 1971
Indian Sea Hawk fighters sunk with bombs and rockets the Pakistani merchants Al Abbas, Anisbaksh and the Brazilian tanker Avlos (11237 GRT).

13 December 1971
Pakistani merchant ship Surma (5890 GRT) sunk by Indian Sea Hawk fighters.

13 February 1972
Indian merchant Vishva Kusum (1992 GRT) sunk by a floating mine, survived from 1971 war.
Apparently, it was a mine left by Mukti Bahini.


Early 1987
On request by Mozambique government, the Indian Navy begun patrolling Mozambique waters in search for supply boats and transports backing the RENAMO armed group.
There is little to no information about these operations, while it is sure that no confrontation occurred with South African Navy, it is unknown if some RENAMO-manned boat seized.
This year, the war in Mozambique reached a bloody peak when RENAMO committed the “Hommoìne Massacre”, killing over 400 civilians inhabiting the village.

3 November 1988
Maldivian coup d’état.
A group of Maldivians rebels planned to take-over the control of capital-island of Maldives.
A communist Tamil insurgent group, PLOTE, backed the rebels apparently in exchange of promise for a future base. The Maldivian leading the coup was a businessperson and suspects over a former president persist.
The Indian Armed Forces landed on the island and defeated the militants. Some of the PLOTE militants escaped onboard the freighter Progress Light but Indian frigates INS Godavari and INS Betwa intercepted and seized her.
Godavari class was the first indigenous Indian design for major warships.


11 November 2008
Indian frigate INS Tabar (Talwar-class) prevented a pirate attack on the Indian merchant MV Jag Amar and Saudi Merchant MV Timaha.

18 November 2008
Somali pirates previously seized the Thai fishing trawler Ekawat Nava-5, probably intended to use it as mother ship, when it was engaged by Indian frigate INS Tabar. Pirates opened fire (also with anti-tank rockets) and the Indian gunfire sunk the ship. Sadly Pirates fully abandoned the ship on two speedboats (one later abandoned on sea), but the original crew of the trawler was kept prisoner into the ship and 14 out of 15 sailors died during the sinking.

INS Tabar. The Talwar class, built in Russia as Project11356, as improved version of the Soviet late Cold War-era Project1135. It was the standard Indian frigate class for the 90s and still the top workhorse units.

13 December 2008
Indian destroyer INS Mysore seized two pirate boats, capturing 23 Somali-Yemenite pirates, preventing the seizure of the Ethiopian merchant MV Gibe.

29 May 2009
Indian frigate INS Talwar captured a pirate skiff that was threatening the merchant MV Maud. 6 pirates captured, 2 killed from the ship’s helicopter fire.

28 January 2011
Battle of Minicoy Island
Somali pirates previously seized the Thai fishing trawler Prantalay-14 operating her for some months as mother ship until she attempted to seize the Bahamian cargo MV Verdi just to be spotted by Indian Coast Guard aircraft that directed the patrol boat INS Cankarso into a “single ship action”: an exchange of fire resulted in the sinking o Prantalay-14. During the battle, the Indian ship suffered no damage or casualty, while Pirates suffered 10 killed and 15 captured, while the original crew of the trawler was rescued.

Sister-ship INS Car Nicobar. The Indian-built Car Nicobar-class proved effective in two different anti-piracy actions.

5 February 2011
Somali pirates previously seized the Thai fishing trawler Prantalay-11 operating her as mother ship until the Indian Coast Guard patrol ship Samar engaged her with the Indian Navy training-ship INS Tir. The cadets onboard the training ship obviously never guessed their ship was going to face direct battle, but they engaged first the Prantalay-11 forcing her surrender (28 pirates captured, 3 of them wounded).
INS Tir designed and built in India as training-ship, remarkably her cadets engaged in combat against the pirates. The Samar-class was also designed and built in India.

13 March 2011
Indian patrol boat INS Kalpeni (Car Nicobar class) intercepted the Mozambique-flagged trawler Vega-5, previously seized by Somali pirates. The ship was liberated and 61 pirates surrendered.

12 August 2011
Indian destroyer INS Mysore intercepted the Iranian merchant Nafis-1, which was seized by pirates: 9 pirates surrendered and the ship was released.

First Indian-designed destroyers, the Delhi-class was the spearhead of the Navy for late 90s and first decade of 2000s. They feature Russian weaponry and some similarities with the powerful Soviet project956 “Sarych”
Soviet cogitations: 312
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Feb 2010, 11:57
Resident Admiral
Post 09 Nov 2018, 11:21
*Integrated Bangladesh (Resistance operations during war for Independence)
* Added merchant losses of Pakistan on the eastern front area in 1971
* Added Indian late cold war and modern anti-piracy operations

Extra Update (January 2019)
*Added extra losses caused by Indian aircrafts (wikipedia, wrecksite, as sources).
*Added a single post-war Indian merchant ship lost due mine in 1972.
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