An Indian Navy sailing team is out to make history as the first-ever voyage by an all-woman crew to circumnavigate the globe.
Six women officers from the Indian Navy have been navigating choppy ocean waters since they were flagged off by Indian defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman from Goa in September last year. They are on a mission to make history as the first-ever voyage by an all-woman crew to circumnavigate the globe and recently departed from Port Stanley, the capital of Falkland Islands - a British Overseas Territory.
INSV Tarini had entered the port after covering approximately 15,000 nautical miles since setting off from India, crossing the Equator, Cape Leeuwin and Cape Horn. The vessel is captained by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, with her crew comprising Lieutenant Commanders Pratibha Jamwal and P. Swathi, and Lieutenants S. Vijaya Devi, B. Aishwarya and Payal Gupta.
“It is always a surprise when nature catches you unaware just when you are lost into its mesmerising beauty, such as our awe when we witnessed the Auroras - the southern lights... only a lucky few get to witness this at sea,” said Lt. Aishwarya, who has been cataloguing the group's experiences.
is a 56-foot sailing vessel, which was inducted in the Indian Navy last year. The voyage by the women officers is described as a perfect showcase of the '
' initiative on an international forum.
The vessel and the crew experienced rough weather and stormy winds during their passage across the Pacific Ocean, which spanned 41 days. This was coupled with the extremely cold climatic conditions of the region and strong winds.
The expedition, titled 'Navika Sagar Parikrama', was flagged off by Sitharaman as part of a national initiative aimed at empowering women to attain their full potential. It also aims to showcase “Nari Shakti” on the world platform and help revolutionise societal attitudes and mindset towards women in India, by raising the visibility of their participation in challenging environs.
The vessel, which set off for Cape Town in South Africa last month, is scheduled to return to Goa in April. The expedition is being covered in five legs, with stopovers at four ports. The first port halt was at Fremantle, Australia, in October 2017, the second at Lyttelton, New Zealand, in November 2017, then Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands in January-February this year, and finally Cape Town in South Africa - where it will be docked before the journey back to India.
The crew has also been collating and updating meteorological, ocean and wave data on a regular basis for accurate weather forecast by the India Meteorological Department (IMD). They are also charged with monitoring marine pollution on the high seas. They have been interacting extensively with the locals, especially children, during their port halts to promote ocean sailing, the spirit of adventure and Make in India.
“During our stay in New Zealand we also celebrated Navy Day and dressed
for the occasion and were fortunate to talk to our honourable defence minister who conveyed her best regards to us,” says Lt. Aishwarya.
was constructed at Aquarius Shipyard at Divar in Goa and after undergoing extensive sea trials, the vessel was commissioned to Indian Navy service in February last year. The construction, a highlight for the Indian government's Make in India programme, was overseen by the Warship Overseeing Team, Goa.
The ship's hull is built of wood-core and fibreglass sandwich and it has six sails, including mainsail, genoa, stay, downwind and storm sail. The vessel is capable of sailing in extreme conditions, something the all-women team have been attempting to demonstrate with their unique voyage. The mast, custom built by Southern Spars, is about 25 meters tall.
The Indian Navy operates four sailing vessels capable of open ocean deployments -
- all four of which have been built at shipyards in Goa. The female globe-trotting mission is also an attempt by the Indian Navy to revitalise open ocean sailing. The Navy has plans to induct four 40-feet, state-of-the-art open ocean racing sail boats.
is similar to its predecessor,
, which has travelled over 115,000 nautical miles during her eight years of service. Several improvements were incorporated in the latest ship, based on experience gained from operating
is fitted with advanced features such as satellite communications and Raymarine navigation suite.
The crew has successfully navigated the vessel across rough Monsoon seas and heavy winds, displaying its agile handling capabilities. Their passage through the Indian, Pacific and Atlantic oceans so far has witnessed winds in excess of 60 knots and waves up to seven metres high.