CHENNAI: The all-women crew of Indian Navy on-board Mhadei may have set the record of being the first to operate an ocean-going sailing boat, but their journey has been a challenging one.
Recalling her journey on the ship, Lt Swathi, who was drafted in Indian Navy in 2011 in the Air Traffic Control, says she got into Mhadei, which is based on Dutch design, in 2014 after being selected in the screening.
“The training in the ship was a physically challenging one. To be in the sea for more than 10 days, one needs to be physically strong,” said Swathi, who had started sailing at the age of 12.
The test of courage for the crew came in 2014 when they were returning from Cape town. “It was a storm with wind speed at 60 knots. The waves were almost six metres,” recalls Swathi.
However, the biggest challenge for the crew would be to circumnavigate the globe next year and the women, who have two to four years experience in the services, are ready for it.
The crew consist of Lt Commander Vartika Joshi (Skipper), Lt Swathi, Lt Pratibha, Sub Lt Payal Gupta and Lt Vijaya Devi. They will be joined by Lt B Aishwarya next month. The women officers are training to form an all-women crew that would attempt to circumnavigate the globe next year.
Mhadei will remain at Chennai Port till February 16 before proceeding to Kochi. It will reach Kochi on February 23 and then would return to Goa on March 2.
Rear Admiral Alok Bhatnagar, Flag Officer in charge of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Area, who came to Chennai Port to receive the crew, said that it was an important event in preparing the women sailors for the first circumnavigation. Unlike men, the Indian women officers don’t serve at sea and work at branches ashore.