Every year, the nation celebrates ‘Indian Navy Day’ on 4 December. But do we know the story behind the valour that brought victory for India in the 1971 war against Pakistan?

It was the night of 3 December, and Admiral SM Nanda was seething with rage. Pakistan had just blown up 11 airfields around the country, and it was time to strike fast, and strike bold.

The strategy room at the Indian Naval Headquarters was occupied for hours at length, as the Admiral and his team planned what would go down as one of the most successful attacks in modern naval history.

It was decided that an attack on the Karachi harbour would ensure a blockade on the Pakistani Navy, effectively cutting the western command from East Pakistan.

3 Vidyut-class missiles – INS Nirghat, INS Nipat and INS Veer – had already been deployed at Okha, in Gujarat, and the fleet was increased to arm each of the missile ships with four Styx missiles each. Apart from these, two Arnala class submarine corvettes – INS Kiltan and INS Katchall – and a fleet tanker were added to the fleet.

Armed to the teeth, the fleet raced towards Karachi port on 4 December to execute an attack that would bring India victory in the deadly war against Pakistan in 1971.