While the concentration of the fighting in August and September 1965 was focused on the hill tracks of Kashmir and then into the plains of Punjab, Arabian sea was calm and quite in comparison. On 6th of September in retaliation to Pakistan’s operation Grand Slam and it’s swift drive into Chamb and Jaurian, Indian army opened up the thinly defended Lahore front, taking the conflict in the disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir towards an official full-fledged war. Pakistan Navy in this scenario had already deployed its submarine PNS Ghazi to its war time position and most of its surface fleet had left the Karachi harbor. To deter the Indian Navy’s western command, which at that time was composed of aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, posed a serious threat to Karachi harbor and Pakistan’s sea Lane of communication both to West and East Pakistan.
Thus, immediately after the war got declared Pakistan’s submarine PNS Ghazi got deployed deep into the hostile waters, where it quietly patrolled around Bombay. Understanding the threat from Pakistani submarine, Indian naval command chooses to keep its Aircraft Carrier and most of its large surface fleet harbored into the Bombay docks.
Operation Dwarka 8th September 1965
On the night of the 8th of September Pakistan naval high command gave the green light to launch a naval bombardment of the coastal radar and other military installations on the coast of Dwarka, Indian state of Gujarat.
The attack had three main objectives
- Prompt the Indian navy so that in response they bring out their carrier group from Bombay, after which PNS Ghazi was already in wait could take her out.
- Indian Airbase in Jamnagar of Gujarat relied on the radar station at Dwarka for launching air raids on Karachi. Thus, neutralizing the radar station would hamper IAF operation over Karachi.
- As the focus of the fighting was on the north, Jammu Kashmir, and Punjab. The Naval raid on Dwarka was also for shifting the focus of the Indian high command towards South and the Arabian sea.
Raid: Seven ships were assembled for the task; PNS Badar, PNS Alamgir, PNS Shah Jahan, PNS Tipu, PNS Babur, PNS Jahangir and PNS Khyber.
On 7 September 1965 in the evening a Broadcast was issued to the attacking fleet about planned attack on Dwarka. The morale was at all time high and when the ships company heard of operation there was a loud Allah-ho-Akbar. The operation was to be started at midnight when the fleet was to be 6 miles from the shore.
Arrival at Dwarka: The fleet was about 14 miles off the Indian Temple town of Dwarka, weather was calm and clear, and radars were giving optimum ranges. The moon was lightning the whole area. Sailors and officers were at their action stations.
Action: one of the ship from the fleet received 11/12 contacts on its PPI(plan position radar), it was the time to engage enemy once for all, Kalma was recited, the ships got into requisite formation to fire Salvos. Each ship must fire 50 rounds at General area of bombardment.
At about midnight at the order of fire ships opened engaging their targets with precision and in less than 10mins it was all over.
Pakistan navy fleet returned to its waters at about 0635 hours on 8th September.
After brief bombardment, the ships headed back to their IP (initial position), the moon was covered with smoke as the city below was burning and the flames could be seen from 10miles. Radar was destroyed in the first 10 rounds which halted IAF bombers from bombardment of Pakistan important cities like Karachi and further IAF operations were suspended. Dozens of Indian sailors along officers were killed on the spot.
Fear in the Indian navy: It was for the first time that such a smaller navy penetrated the hub of a 6 times greater navy, achieved its goals, and returned with any scratch.
Following days of the war Pak navy kept surveillance but not a single ship of Indian navy could be seen thus restricting Indian navy to its dock in rest of war, like the IAF aircrafts were washed off from the sky so was the Indian navy from the Arabian sea.