Indian Navy war hero Commodore Gopal Rao dies in Chennai | Chennai News – Times of India

MANGALURU: VSM Commodore Kasaragod Patnashetti Gopal Rao, with Mangalurean roots, expired in Besant Nagar, Chennai due to old age on Monday. He was 95-years-old.
He is survived by wife, son and two daughters. The funeral was held at Chennai with all military honours.
His nephew, K P Vasudeva Rao, an advocate, told TOI that Rao, born in Mangaluru in 1926, was commissioned into the Indian Navy on April 21, 1950 and was a specialist in Gunnery.
In 1971, Rao was the Commanding Officer of INS Kiltan in the Eastern Naval Command. However, with the war looming against Pakistan, Admiral SM Nanda, the then chief of Naval Staff, personally appointed Rao to join the Western Naval Command so as to command ‘Operation Trident’ against Pakistan.
Admiral Nanda believed that Rao was the best man to command this offensive operation against Pakistan. Indian Government gave the go ahead to attack Karachi Harbour after Pakistan carried out an attack on India without declaring War. This was the first offensive naval action from the Indian side. On the night of 04/05 Dec 1971, during the Indo- Pak Operations, a small task group of the Western Fleet under Rao carried out an offensive sweep on the part of Karachi.
Notwithstanding the threat of enemy, air surface and submarine attack, Rao led his task group deep into enemy waters and located two groups of large enemy warships. Despite heavy gun fire from enemy destroyers, Rao carried out a determined attack which resulted in the sinking of enemy destroyers and one minesweeper. After the surface engagement with enemy warships, Rao left his task group to invade deep into enemy waters and bombarded Karachi Port setting fire to oil and other installations in the harbor.
In this operation, Rao had displayed conspicuous gallantry and outstanding leadership in the best traditions of the Indian Navy and was awarded the first Maha Virchakra in the Indian Navy. As a result, the Karachi Port was paralysed. It is to mark this operational victory that the Indian Navy celebrates Navy Day every year on December 4.
Vasudev Rao said Gopal Rao’s father K P Janardhan Rao was the first IGP in Madras, 1937. Gopal Rao’s last visit to Mangaluru was in 2010.


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