“It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious.”
“US President George Washington
For in this modern world, the instruments of warfare are not solely for waging war. Far more importantly, they are the means for controlling peace. Pakistan’s Naval officers understand not only how to fight a war, but how to use the tremendous power which they operate to sustain without unleashing the powerful instruments of destruction and chaos that they have at their command. Operation Dwarka was a naval operation initiated by the Pakistan Navy to attack the Indian coastal town of Dwarka on 7 September 1965. This was the first use of the Pakistan Navy in any of the Indo-Pakistan Wars.
A new chapter was written in annals of Naval warfare as Pakistan Navy achieved the dual purposes of protecting Karachi harbor and stopping Dwarka facilities from aiding the Indian Air Force in launching sorties on Pakistan’s biggest city and outlet to international sea routes from seaward.
The Dwarka disaster inflicted colossal damages to the naval base of India on the coast of Gujrat-Indian state which also housed the temple of Somnath, besides eliminating her frigate `Kokari in the watery wilderness of the Arabian sea.”.
Commander HH Ahmad, who later was promoted as C-in-C of Pakistan Navy in 1971 writes in a chapter of the book”1965 War: Epic Exploits of the Pakistan Navy: “Frustrated by the Indian naval units resolve of not putting to sea, the C-in-C Pakistan Navy decided to provoke them and lure them out”.
The Indian Navy had followed the advice of the naval historian Commander Grenfell when he said “The belligerent that considers herself weak may fall back on the defensive and keep its main fleet in harbor, avoiding a decisive battle”. The historian in this case however was conscious of the need of tendering advice to the other belligerent also when he said “Another method of getting a fleet sometimes out of the harbor is to entice it out by carrying out some operation which would serve to demonstrate the ineptitude of the enemy navy thereby rousing public opinion in the enemy country to high enough pitch to force their fleet into activity.”
Following the second principle and in the light of the appreciation conducted of Indian air raids on Karachi Port the PN decided to conduct a raid on an enemy coastal town.
Orders to bombard the Indian military installations at the coastal town of Dwarka were received early on the morning of 7th September.
The enemy radar and radio beacon facilities at Dwarka were aiding the enemy aircraft in attacking Karachi from the seaward side. Obliterating the Dwarka facilities would serve the dual aim of protecting Karachi harbor and enticing the enemy fleet to seek battle with our flotilla.
Finally, the action would involve the Indian Navy in operation near her coast thereby preventing her from planning any operation against Pakistan’s Sea Lines of Communication. For a large number of officers and men of PN, this was to be their first taste of real action. Even the undertraining cadets,
midshipmen and reserve officers thanked Allah Almighty for the good fortune in being called upon to play a part in the epic operation, which added a glorious chapter to our history.
The plan for Operation “Somnath” was passed to all units. The replenishment tanker Dacca (Capt. Aziz) was detached and given a rendezvous position in the direction of advance of the force for its next task. The cruiser and the destroyers meanwhile formed up and would enter enemy waters within a few hours.
The wind had slightly freshened, the swell was long and the sea slight. As night fell, the stars appeared. The sky was clear and a bright full moon was expected. About two hours, steaming distance
from the target a few stratocumulus clouds started drifting from the west giving a ghostly appearance to the hull of the ships in the murky light that filtered through. Then suddenly a freak flare was sighted amongst the clouds, a little distance away from the ship. The possibility of the Indian reconnaissance aircraft having detected our ships, and giving warning could not be ruled out. Apart from a few small fishing boats, nothing else appeared on the radar screen.
As Pakistani flotilla approached, Dwarka was completely blacked out. Except for the silhouettes of installations and a few high chimneys, nothing could be seen. The ships closed as near as possible to the target. Apart from navigational hazards, there was the danger of enemy mines or other obstructions. “There was no thought of safety or return, but only to blast the target of existence”, say some witnesses.
Complete surprise was essential. Midnight came. It was the 8th of September, the zero hours had come. At exactly 30 minutes past midnight, the order to open fire was given. With a deafening thunder, gun after gun fired its salvoes, and Dwarka rocked as if by a gigantic earthquake. The shell was bursting right on the target.
The radar of radio beacon installations, the railway station, and other vital areas were ablaze. “The enemy shore battery, at last, woke up and opened fire on our ships but we responded fiercely and silenced the enemy guns”.
For 15 minutes, PN warships blasted Dwarka mercilessly. Their mission was accomplished. The success of the operation must be attributed to the excellent standard of training and fine discipline. As the Morning News said in its editorial “That speaks volumes of the high degree of operational readiness and efficiency of both seagoing force and the shore Establishments. It is also a testimony to the fact that our sailors never allowed the numerical superiority and the weight of the armaments to affect their morale.
A powerful Navy we have always regarded as our proper and natural means of defense; and it has always been of defense that we have thought, never of aggression or of conquest. In the future as in the past; and there will be no thought of offense or provocation in that. Our ships are our natural bulwarks.
“A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace.”
President Theodore Roosevelt