With the weakening of colonial power and influence in Asia and emergence of small new nations. India made a strong bid for supremacy and domination in the area. In order to be paramount in the area from Aden to Singapore to Australia, India embarked on a very systematic increase of her armed forces in general and navy in particular with the avowed intention of domination of the Indian Ocean. Since 1947 she had acquired an aircraft carrier and numerous anti-submarine and anti-aircraft frigates. Future planning included the addition of Leander class frigates built indigenously.
Being a large and reasonably industrialized country. India had huge indigenous resources which could be easily harnessed for military use. The country had the capacity as well as the capability to build warships, aircraft, tanks, guns and other items of military hardware. Her steel production. a vital raw material. was the second highest in the Commonwealth. Besides these, India produced all the ammunition and explosives needed and used by her Armed Forces. The capacity to produce a large number of items of war equipment gave India the ability to wage a longer war than Pakistan.
India had docking, construction and large scale repair facilities at Bombay, Vishakhapatnarn and Calcutta. These repair centers had modern facilities and were capable of handling the largest ships possessed by India. Docking of small vessels and limited repair facilities were also available at Goa, Cochin and Madras. The Indian Navy was not handicapped in any way through lack of docking, repair and maintenance facilities, and it could safely be assumed that at the outbreak of war all ships of the Indian Navy would be fully operational and in good fighting trim. The following threats were posed by the Indian Navy:
Air (both carrier borne and shore based).
Interdiction of shipping/blockade. d. Mining.
In March 1965 the Indian Navy, having completed a series of exercises off Bombay and Cochin, sent their aircraft carrier and a number of destroyers and frigates on a goodwill visit to the Gulf ports. On their return they joined up with other units from Bombay and carried out extensive exercises off Kutch. These exercises included anti-submarine, anti-aircraft, strike and photo recce missions by carrier-borne aircraft. This appears to have been a prelude to the Kutch operations in which the aircraft carrier played an important role in transporting men and material to the port of Kandla, which was being used as a support base for operations in the area.
In Karachi, Tughril was having an extended refit, Khaibar was due to complete her refit shortly and Shahjahan was starting a short period in dockyard hands. COMPAK arrived suddenly in the afternoon with the Flotilla Engineer Officer to enquire how quickly Shahjahan could be boxed up and made ready to proceed to sea. Since very little had been opened up there was no problem in boxing up, arming and becoming operational. All available ships were made ready and proceeded to sea a few days later for the Rann of Kutch operations which was a prelude to the September 1965 War.
A notable feature of the 1965 war was that both its genesis and outcome have remained largely unstated, but it was caused by frictions generated by the gradual change in India’s stance over the Kashmir issue. In Pakistan it was becoming increasingly evident that India wanted to do a volte face on its commitment to a plebiscite in Kashmir. This was clear from the pronouncement of its leaders and by the practical steps initiated for the incorporation of the disputed territory into the Indian Union. The predominant view in Pakistan was that if nothing was done to thwart her efforts, she would be emboldened to proceed ahead with her plans for the assimilation of the state into its territory. Lack of any response on Pakistan’s part, it was feared would enable the Indians to strengthen their claim over the State as time passed.
In July a large portion of the Indian Navy was at Madras carrying out exercises with the British submarine Astute and the venue shifted to Vishakhapatnam in August 1965. On conclusion of these exercises, the cruiser Mysore and the frigates Brahmaputra and Beas proceeded to Calcutta. Rear Admiral Samson, the Flag Officer Commanding Indian Fleet, was on board Mysore at this time. Once in Calcutta, Rear Admiral Samson and his staff suddenly proceeded by train to Bombay. The cruiser Mysore and frigates also left Calcutta for Cochin. Our D/F stations tracked the ships till they were off Cochin when we lost contact with them.
From the time of the Rann of Kutch operations for the next four to five months the PN ships went to sea frequently and carried out intensive maneuvers. Changes of formation from surface to antiaircraft disposition were carried out while long periods were spent patrolling off Karachi. In between there was a change of COMPAK Commodore SB Salimi proceeded to Naval Headquarters and Commodore S M Anwar took over. Exercises continued through the monsoons; in August all leave was stopped in the fleet and preparations were made for possible hostilities.
In Kashmir a protest movement erupted over the theft of a holy relic. Raids were carried out on targets such as military dumps, vehicles and airstrips. Local leaders and the population, despite their willingness, could not extend themselves further. Since the kashmiris’ struggle was spontaneous. Pakistan did not establish in advance the framework of an organization essential for the purpose.
The Indians retaliated by military incursions at several locations along the ceasefire line aimed at, according to them, closing the access routes of the Mujahideen into the Valley. With a disparity of 5:1 in strength of forces in Kashmir, it was not feasible to resist the mounting Indian pressure along the ceasefire line. To take the pressure off. Pakistan launched operation Grand Slam on the night of 31 August/1 September with the aim of capturing Akhnur. The threat to India’s sole artery to Kashmir that this operation posed, it was expected, would release the pressure. The comparison of naval forces in September 1965 was as follows:
- Cruiser – 1
- Submarine – 1
- Destroyers/Frigates – 7
- Carrier – 1
- Cruiser – 2
- Destroyers/Frigates – 19
The role assigned to the Pakistan Navy was the maritime defense of Pakistan. This included the following tasks:
Seaward defense of the ports of Pakistan.
Keeping the sea lines of communications open.
Escorting merchant ships.
Protection of coasts against amphibious assaults.
Interdiction of shipping.
Assisting army in the riverine operations in East Pakistan.
The disposition of the Indian ships on 6 September 1965 was as follows:
East Coast – 5 Destroyers/Frigates
West Coast – 1 Carrier
- 2 Cruisers
- 14 Destroyers/Frigates
Considering the above factors. Pakistan Navy units were deployed to put them to maximum effective use. The surface units were deployed as one force on patrol off Karachi providing seaward defense. The PN submarine was deployed off Bombay to look after the heavy units of the Indian Navy. The Indian Navy with considerable numerical superiority was bottled up in harbor due mainly to our submarines presence in their waters. This situation afforded an opportunity to the Pakistan Navy to carry out an offensive action against Dwarka without any hindrance from the Indian Navy.
The Dwarka bombardment was undertaken for the following reasons:
To draw the heavy enemy units out of Bombay for the submarine to attack.
To destroy the radar installation at Dwarka.
To lower Indian morale.
To divert Indian air effort away from the north.
The following units under Commodore S M Anwar as COMPAK took part in the naval operations:
Babur Captain MAK Lodi
Khaibar Captain A Hanif
Dacca Captain RM Aziz
Badr Commander IH Malik
Jahangir Commander KM Hussain
Tippu Sultan Commander Amir Aslam
Shahjahan Commander SZ Shamsie
Alamgir Commander IF Quadir
PN S/M Ghazi Commander KR Niazi
The submarine Ghazi was deployed off Bombay. This being the only submarine that the PN had in 1965, it could not have been employed for any of the numerous other tasks which were also quite important, The sinking of heavy units was considered the most important of all the tasks that could have been performed by the submarine, Hence PNS Ghazi was given specific orders to remain off Bombay and attack only the heavy units of the Indian Navy, The surface units were deployed to patrol on an arc 100 miles from Karachi to achieve concentration of force, provide seaward defense and attack the enemy as one group.
On 6 September, 1965 one destroyer, two new and two old frigates were on the cast coast of India, Vikrant and Delhi were refitting in Bombay and most oft the remaining destroyers and frigates had arrived at Bombay having completed their exercises at Vishakhapatnarn. It would appear, that the Indian Navy was caught on the wrong foot at the commencement of hostilities, The carrier borne strike aircraft were at Cochin towards the end of August, Subsequently by 5 September, these were moved to Bombay and to Janmnagar. From this it is clear that last minute hectic activity was started with a view to prepare for war, although this was rather late. Post-war intelligence has confirmed that the Indian Navy was informed of the Indian designs on 3 September 1965.
These movements plus developments on the land front clearly demanded that our own naval forces should be brought to the highest state of preparedness for war, The Submarine Ghazi was sailed on 2 September 1965 to patrol off Bombay and was instructed to attack only the heavy units i.e. Vikrant, Mysore and Delhi, She was in position by the morning of 5 September, 1965 and we had hoped that in case the cruiser Mysore and her escorts were proceeding up the west coast of India towards Bombay, she would be in a position to attack her, The cruiser Mysore did not at any stage of the war proceed to Bombay and it is presumed that she operated throughout the war from Cochin.
The message that the Indians had attacked across the international frontiers in the Lahore area was received at 0630 on 6 September. Orders were given to our naval forces to proceed to their pre-assigned war stations. At that time surface units of the Pakistan Navy were preparing to leave harbor at 0800 for the weekly exercise programme. They were well prepared having embarked fuel, stores and ammunition. The ships in fact slipped before 0800 and left harbor; thereafter they remained at sea almost continuously till 27 September.
During this period they were fuelled and provided logistic support at sea. Simultaneously the Naval Control of Shipping Organization was activated which took effective control of Pakistan merchant ships. An embargo was declared on all merchant ships carrying warlike stores for India. The C-in-C: directed the Chairman IWTA to seal off all river routes used by Indian steamers transiting through East Pakistan and to seize all such vessels and their cargo. All these measures, implemented without any delay, caused severe losses to the enemy in valuable cargo, ships and river craft.
During the afternoon of 7 September, while the ships were on patrol, the following signal was sent from Naval Headquarters:
‘Task group comprising Babur. Khaihar. Badr. Jahangir. Alamgir. Shahjahan and Tippu Sultan is to be in position 293 degree – 120 miles from Dwarka Light House by 071800 E/Sep with maximum power available. Task group thereafter to carry out bombardment of Dwarka about midnight using 50 rounds per ship. Force is to retire from bombardment area by 0800 30 Sep and return to present patrol arc at full speed. One or two enemy frigates may be expected to encounter in the area in addition to enemy air threat.’
Commodore Commanding PN Flotilla (Commander Task Group) accordingly originated his signal DTG 071835 E/Sep, the salient features of which were:
a. The initial position (IP) selected was 206 degrees Dwarka Light 6 miles. The target was to be city installations and conspicuous chimneys.
b. At the time of bombardment ships were to be in formation with axis 050 degrees (in line of bearing 140 degrees-320 degrees) distance apart 7 cables. Firing course selected was 320 degrees speed 15 knots.
c. Complete radio silence was to be maintained except on air warning radar SNW 12 and UHF Tactical Primary circuit. Babur was to maintain guard on Radar 964. Radio silence was to be automatically lifted on arrival at the IP.
Battle Station – on board PNS Tippu Sultan – 1965 WarBattle Station – on board PNS Tippu Sultan – 1965 War
The force completed refueling by 071700 and arrived in position 293 degrees Dwarka Light 120 miles at 1900. Course was then altered to 116 degrees for the Initial Position (IP), speed was increased to 20 knots and the ships assumed attack formation. At 1920 speed was reduced to 16 knots to pass CTG’s Operation Order by heaving line. The sky was overcast, the sea was moderately rough and a strong south westerly monsoon was still blowing. Consequently, heaving line transfer between ships on that course was difficult, the course was altered to 160 degrees and speed reduced to 12 knots to facilitate this operation which was completed by 2000. At 2005 course was altered to 104 degrees, speed 23 knots to head for the IP. Ships were in line of bearing 320 degrees – 140 degrees seven cables apart with Babur in the centre. Ships were completely darkened and radio silence was being observed.
At 2301 Babur obtained a surface contact on bearing 074 degrees distance 20 miles, this was continuously tracked. At 2314 when the contact was 064 degrees – 14.9 miles it was appreciated to be stationary. Other ships also reported this contact as either stationary or doing very slow speed. At 2340 Alamgir reported that the contact was showing white lights. At 2357 Babur’s bridge identified it as a merchant ship probably at anchor. At 2357 Tippu Sultan reported a small contact to the south at 7.8 miles, this subsequently faded. One or two other contacts were reported by ships but all of these were either false echoes or cloud echoes. At 2355 course was adjusted to 090 degrees for the Initial Position, and at 0012 speed was reduced to 15 knots. Six minutes later the ships altered course to the firing course 320 degrees. At 0024 bombardment was ordered to be commenced, at this time the target was bearing 045 degrees – 5.5 miles from Babur. Ships were in column on course 320 degrees, in sequence from the north Alamgir, Jahangir, Khaibar, Babur, Badr, Shahjhan and Tippu Sultan, distance apart seven cables (1400 yards). At the commencement of bombardment the target ranges in nautical miles from various ships were as follows:
Alamgir – 5.58
Jahangir – 5.6
Khaibar – 5.5
Babur – 5.5
Badr – 5.55
Shahjahan – 5.75
Tippu Sultan – 6.3
The city of Dwarka was completely blacked out and the target could only be identified on radar. During the bombardment it was reported from Babur’s bridge that a few rounds had been observed, presumably fired by a shore battery. A green Very’s light was also observed to have been fired. The bombardment was completed at 0028 by which time all the ships had fired the allocated 50 rounds each. It took four minutes to complete the bombardment. On completion of bombardment the ranges of the target from various ships were as follows:
Alamgir – 6.1
Jahangir – 5.8
Khaibar – 5.65
Babur – 5.5
Badr – 5.5
Shahjahan – 5.6
Tippu Sultan – 5.7
Cdr K R Niazi – on the periscope of GhaziCdr K R Niazi – on the periscope of Ghazi
On completion of bombardment, at 0028 course was altered to 310 degrees, speed 24 knots. At 0029 Babur obtained radar contact of aircraft on surface radar. These were first picked up at a range of 48 miles on bearing 114 degrees. Speed was increased to 26 knots at 0032 to retire at full dispatch. A second aircraft contact was obtained at 0038 on bearing 004 degrees – 38 miles. At 0042 formation was changed by the CTG to A/A circular formation with Babur in the centre. Other aircraft contacts were seen on radar at ranges varying from 9 to 16 miles and on bearings from north through east to south. The ships were ordered to engage any aircraft that came within gun range and some ships did open fire. No ships reported any damage. The Task Group arrived at the hundred-mile patrol arc at 0635 on 8 September having completed its mission.
After the Dwarka operation the flotilla remained patrolling along the 100 mile arc changing to anti-aircraft dispositions at dusk and dawn. Very little happened during this time. There was one occasion, on 20 October. when five radar contacts were seen near Kori Creek and ships were detached to investigate and take action. Later the five ships retreated southwards. On another occasion there was warning of a likely air attack and some ships opened fire. Later it was appreciated that they were false echoes.
Just after the Dwarka attack the submarine Ghazi had been patrolling off the Kutch Coast. She tracked 4-5 escorts on passage from Bombay proceeding up the Kutch Coast but did not attack them as her orders were to attack heavy ships only. On 11 September there were intensive antisubmarine air patrols off Bombay. One Alize aircraft flew over Ghazi while she was snorkelling but failed to detect her. Ghazi returned to base thereafter to rectify her defective electronic counter-measure equipment and returned on patrol on 15 September.
Off Bombay at 0850 on 22 September 1965 PNS Ghazi gained contacts which were persistent and gaining strength. The bearing was steady. This gave rise to much hope that ships were approaching. As the ships movements right or left could not be determined, it was decided to stay on the same course with reduced speed till the bearing started shifting. At 1215 when the contact was very strong the bearing started to draw left and smoke was sighted bearing 303 degrees.
The submarine secured snorkelling and altered course to intercept. Action stations were sounded at 1230 when a mast was sighted. It was soon evident that the angle on the targets bow was broad and chances of interception small. The submarine nevertheless tried to close at high speed looking for a zig towards, which never came, and the ship passed 16000 yards away. Visual contact was lost at 1325. It was then evaluated that she was 16000 yards off their patrol track and decided to close in. The submarine started snorkelling on one engine and steered north. At 1600, on reaching their patrol track, the submarine altered course to 310 degrees and later reversed course to 130 degrees at 1700. At about 1815 a number of contacts of considerable strength were reported and five minutes later a mast was sighted on bearing 218 degrees. After a couple of peeps through the periscope it was established that the bearing was drawing right quite fast. Suddenly the target zigged towards her at 1840 at a range of 14,000 yards and the position did not appear hopeless any more.
The submarine secured snorkelling and altered course to 300 degrees and increased speed to 5 knots to intercept. Action stations were sounded and the attack started at 1846. At 1854 the submarine took a last visual range of the target which was 8400 yards bearing 215 degrees, angle on the bow port 30 degrees. The submarine shifted to search periscope and started ranging by eye, this proved to be more than 100 yards in error. At 1920 the target zigged to port, angle on the bow starboard 30 degrees. The submarine altered course to 300 degrees to attack on this leg of the zigzag.
At 1911 the submarine altered course to 290 degrees to bring gyrose to zero. During the attack, radar was switched on for accurate range. The target was an A/A frigate. At 1912 four bow tubes were fired with depth set at 10 and 12 feet alternately in position 19 degrees 53 minutes N, 68 degrees 45 minutes E. The periscope was kept up for all four torpedoes to ensure accuracy. The submarine dived to 200 feet and rigged for deep submergence. After one minute and thirty seconds the first torpedo was heard to hit, followed five seconds later by another hit.
At about 1917 sonar reported two patterns of squids being fired. Five minutes later sonar reported one more pattern of squid firing. The submarine steered course 270 degrees, speed five knots at 300ft depth for two hours, then came to periscope depth at 2115 for a sweep using her sensor. There were no contacts, so she commenced snorkeling at 2130 speed eight knots.
The submarine deduced that there would be a time lag before the enemy reacted and sent Alize aircraft out. She therefore, decided to surface at 0145 on 23 September and increased speed to nineteen knots to put some distance between the submarine and the datum. This bold step paid off and the submarine managed to run on the surface till 0324 when she had to dive because of an approaching aircraft. She surfaced again at 0335 and remained on the surface till 0545 at 18 knots when she had to submerge again on sighting an aircraft. At 0615 she started snorkeling on two engines and proceeded to Karachi on a northerly course speed eight knots.
The submarine managed to clear the attack signal at 0730. Although there were aircraft around, the passage was uneventful and the submarine made the final leg of the passage to Karachi on the surface. Ghazi returned to Karachi on 23 September.
In the afternoon of 4 October while ships were on patrol off Karachi orders were dispatched for Babur, Khaibar and Jahangir (under the command of COMPAK) to proceed towards Aden to rendezvous M V Bagh-e-Karachi to escort her to Karachi. Dacca had to fuel these ships enroute. Course was altered for Aden at twelve knots to allow Dacca which was in harbor until 1400 to catch up . Rendezvous was affected with the oiler the next day at 1045. Refueling of all ships was completed by 1445 and the ships increased speed to 18 knots. It was expected that Bagh-e-Karachi would be intercepted on the evening of 7 October. Ships were formed on a scouting line five miles apart to provide a wide search area and to prevent the merchantman slipping through. Many merchant ships were encountered and the traffic was heavy. At about 1915 Bagh-eKarachi was sighted in the vicinity of the rendezvous position and soon after was joined by the force. A communication team was transferred to the merchantman and course shaped for Karachi. The next day the ships were again fuelled by Dacca, on completion of which the latter proceeded to Karachi independently.
On 8 October at about 1945 two radar contacts were behaving suspiciously, and appeared to be closing Bagh-e-Karachi and the formation. It was confirmed visually that they were showing navigational lights, possibly two enemy frigates disguised as merchantmen. The force by this time had been formed up ahead of Bagh-e-Karachi to deal with these contacts appropriately. However, at about four miles they were positively identified as two tankers. Bagh-e-Karachi escorted by the three ships arrived at Manora anchorage at 2030 on 10 October. With this the last mission performed by the PN ships which had any direct connection with the war, came to a successful end.
The following measures were carried out for Harbor Defense:
a. Mine Countermeasures. Minesweepers carried out a daily sweep in the approaches to Karachi to ensure a channel free of mines. The mine watching organization was also activated.
b. Air Defense. Air Defense Organization in coordination with the PAF was activated.
c. Surveillance. Continuous surveillance was carried out against sneak attack and landing on beaches.
d. Measures Against Underwater Saboteurs. Mobile water patrols in harbor and approaches to the harbor were carried out. Bottoms of naval ships in harbor were also searched periodically.
e. Examination Service. Orders were issued that no ships were to approach within 75 miles during hours of darkness. All ships arriving at Manora were tracked by radar. met by an examination ship, searched and verified by boarding parties. Similar arrangements were made in Chittagong.
f. Security of Important Points. Security guards were provided for all important installations. The conclusions drawn from the actions of 1965 were: