A story that has almost been erased from the Indian history books. When Pakistan’s defeat in the 1971 war seemed easy, Kissinger prompted Nixon to send the US 7th Fleet Task Force, led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, to the Bay of Bengal
These are the same Russian submarines, which protected the Indian Navy by becoming a shield against America in the 1971 war. 50 years ago in 1971, the US threatened India to stop the 1971 war.
Concerned India sent an SOS to the Soviet Union. When Pakistan’s defeat in the 1971 war seemed easy, Kissinger prompted Nixon to send the US 7th Fleet Task Force, led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, to the Bay of Bengal.
USS Enterprise, 75,000 tons, was the world’s largest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the 1970s with over 70 fighters. A moving monster on the surface of the sea. The Indian Navy’s fleet was led by Vikrant, a 20,000-tonne aircraft carrier, carrying 20 light combat aircraft.
Officially the USS Enterprise was sent to the Bay of Bengal to protect American citizens in Bangladesh, while unofficially it was to intimidate the Indian Army and prevent the liberation of East Pakistan.
India soon got another bad news. Soviet intelligence reported to India that a powerful British naval fleet led by the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle along with the commando carrier HMS Albion, along with several destroyers and other ships were approaching the The Arabian Sea from the west in Indian waters.
The British and Americans planned a coordinated naval attack to intimidate India: British ships in the Arabian Sea would target India’s west coast, while the Americans would attack in Chittagong. The Indian Navy was caught between British and American ships.
Admiral N Krishnan, the chief of the Eastern Command of the Indian Navy, wrote in his book ‘No Way But Surrender’ that he feared the Americans would reach Chittagong. He mentioned how he thought of attacking the Enterprise in a do-or-die trick to slow it down.
On 2 December 1971, a task force of the US 7th Fleet led by the water giant USS Enterprise arrived in the Bay of Bengal. The British fleet was coming into the Arabian Sea. The world held its breath. However, unknown to the Americans, they were overtaken by submerged Soviet submarines.
As the USS Enterprise headed for East Pakistan, Soviet submarines came to the fore without warning. Soviet submarines now stood between India and American naval forces.
Americans were surprised. The 7th US Fleet Commander told Admiral Gordon: “Sir, we are too late. The Soviets are here!” no choice but to retreat Both the American and British fleets retreated.
The 1971 war is considered to be modern India’s finest hour, in military terms. The quick reaction of the Indian army, navy, and air force; a brass led by the legendary Field Marshal ‘Sam Manekshaw’. Today, most Indians have forgotten this huge naval chess battle between the two superpowers in the Bay of Bengal, however, it is important to remember this military history
(© Vinod Kumar Jha – former naval officer)