Nation Remembers Legendary Admiral SM Nanda on his Birth Anniversary

The legendary Admiral SM Nanda

Admiral SM Nanda – The Man who steered Indian Navy to a resounding victory during 1971 Indo -Pak War

New Delhi (India), October 12: Hailed and revered as the War hero behind the only historic Indian Naval victory scripted in the1971 Indo-Pak War, the legendary Admiral Nanda orchestrated Operations Trident and Python, a daring naval attack on Karachi citadel of Pakistani Navy, setting it aflame and causing colossal damage to its naval fleet, which proved a watershed moment in the 1971 War, leading to the surrender by Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh from the erstwhile East Pakistan. 

It is about time that the Architect of the Historic Indian Navy Victory in 1971 war against Pakistan is honoured by bestowing upon him the honour and rank of the ‘Admiral Of The Fleet’ posthumously as a must befitting tribute to one of India’s finest Naval officers, who awed the world.

Today a grateful nation remembers and pays homage to former Indian Navy Chief Admiral SM Nanda on his 108th birth anniversary. A distinguished naval officer and strategist par excellence, Admiral Nanda created maritime history for independent India by his visionary and daring leadership in the 1971 Indo-Pak War.

Admiral Nanda orchestrated Operations Trident and Python, daring naval attacks on Karachi the citadel of Pakistani Navy, setting it aflame and causing colossal damage to its naval fleet which proved a watershed moment in the 1971 War leading to the creation of an independent Bangladesh from the erstwhile East Pakistan. 

Man of Rare Conviction 

Admiral Nanda was gifted with a rare kind of conviction, farsightedness and rock-solid determination to take on challenges head on. His firm command led the Indian Navy to play a crucial role in India’s wartime victory, his strategic acumen and dedication to the nation’s maritime security has left an indelible mark on our naval history, making him a revered figure in the country’s military annals, as the man who scripted the only victory in the naval history of India and that too without any casualty on our side.

‘And if war comes again, I assure you that we shall carry it right into the enemy’s biggest ports like Karachi .I know this harbour quite well, for I started my career there. And you have my word that given the opportunity, the Indian Navy will make the world’s biggest bonfire of it .’

– Admiral S M Nanda, then Chief of the Naval Staff, at a press conference in Jamnagar, November 1971.

The Man Who Bombed Karachi Port

Under the stellar leadership of Admiral Nanda, the Indian Navy’s wartime tactics stunned the world. The bombing of Karachi from the sea in the 1971 War, braving all odds and challenges was a daring and incredible feat by the Indian Navy that phenomenally exemplified his resilience, farsightedness and conviction to win the war.

His dashing personality and decisive decision making were greatly applauded by then political leadership, who had given him a free hand in taking Operation Trident and Operation Python to its logical conclusion, which led to the devastation of Karachi port.

Admiral Nanda also strategically deployed missile boats, which attacked naval targets and an oil tank farm at Keamari port. Operation Trident sank Pakistan Navy destroyer PNS Khaibar, minesweeper PNS Muhafiz, an ammunition-carrying ship MV Venus Challenger. Operation Python proved the last nail in the Pak Navy’s coffin.

Hailed and revered as the ‘Man Who Bombed Karachi’ utilizing the daring Russian applied Missile Boats during 1971 Indo-Pak War, Admiral Nanda was awarded Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award, for his outstanding courageousness during the war.

A Brilliant Strategist

Against the threat that Pakistan’s Ghazi submarine posed, Admiral Nanda devised an innovative strategy wherein he feigned a defensive deployment of our aircraft carrier southeast towards the Andaman Islands and lured the Ghazi submarine positioned outside Visakhapatnam harbour to its watery grave. 

In the Eastern theatre, Admiral Nanda planned the deployment of the aircraft carrier INS Vikrant in the Gulf of Bengal off East Pakistan to open a front from seaward to blockade it and prevent reinforcements or supplies from reaching it. Simultaneously, he lent his support for the training of Bangladesh freedom fighters, who went on to sabotage enemy shipping and cripple the port operations in East Pakistan. 


What Admiral Nanda was able to achieve was extraordinary and unprecedented. The victory was so astounding and decisive that using the Missile Boats – meant for limited defensive applications– even amazed the Russians, who were not ready to believe that their boats could go so far and so fiercely and inflict so much damage to the enemy.

“My Great Indian friends have achieved the impossible,” Admiral of the Heroic Fleet of the Soviet Union (Glavkom) – Gorshkov shared his astonishment and alacrity with Admiral Nanda over his remarkable triumph.

Even the American Admiral in his inscription on his memoir ‘ON WATCH,’ by Elmo R Zumwalt Jr, Admiral USN (Retd) wrote: “To Admiral SM Nanda who knew the key, in 1971, to avoiding mishap! With respect!” Admiral Zumwalt, who was the Chief of Naval Operations, US Navy, in 1971 and led the U S Seventh Fleet to intimidate India during the 1971 Indo Pak war.

Admiral Zumwalt visited India and in a letter dated 6th December 1989 to Admiral Nanda, shared the inscribed copy of his book ‘ON WATCH’ wherein he mentions: “Here, in India, Admiral Nanda, now retired, told us that his instructions to his ships at that time were – If you encounter US Navy ships, invite their captains onboard for a drink.”


The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi congratulated Chiefs of the three services, General Sam Manekshaw, Admiral SM Nanda and Air Chief Marshal PC Lal for their remarkable feat.

A befitting acknowledgement of the magnificent services and extraordinary leadership Admiral Nanda provided to the Indian Navy during a critical juncture in the nation’s history will be the conferment of ‘Admiral of the Fleet’ honour on him. 

This gesture will serve as a reminder of the dedication, courage, strategic brilliance and unwavering commitment for excellence displayed by the Indian Navy under the magnificent leadership of Admiral Nanda for ages to come and give a sense of pride to Indians for winning a historic Naval Battle against severe odds.

Let Admiral Nanda’s Memory Live Long 

By giving this due recognition posthumously to Admiral Nanda, a symbol of inspiration and a testament to the indomitable spirit of the Indian Navy, we will only ensure that his great legacy inspires current and future generations of naval officers to uphold the highest standards of professionalism and dedication in the defense of their nation’s sovereignty. 

Admiral Nanda had a charismatic personality, who motivated his fledgling Navy to achieve the impossible, foresaw the bigger picture, ensured swift planning and adaptation to highly dynamic wartime circumstances and led by example to add a scintillating feather in India’s ever dazzling armour.

How magnificent was Admiral Nanda as a Naval leader has been beautifully described later by one of his successors the  Naval Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta in his tribute to him in 2009: “He (Admiral Nanda) will always be remembered in the most glowing terms for his leadership of the Indian Navy during the Indo-Pak Conflict of 1971, in which the Indian Navy carved its name in golden letters in the annals of history by its sterling offensive actions.”

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