MUMBAI: I feel honored and humbled by the achievement of these six young naval officers,” said Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. She welcomed the Indian Navy’s sixmember all-women crew that arrived at their home port of INS Mandovi in Goa on Monday after circumnavigating the globe in over eight months on board the naval vessel, INSV Tarini. “This is what Indian youth, who is ready to face challenges, can achieve,” added the minister, who had flagged off the mission on September 10, 2017 at Mandovi.
Titled ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’, the expedition encouraged the use of environment friendly non-conventional renewable energy resources and aimed at harnessing renewable energy. The first-ever all-women crew was headed by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, ably assisted by Lieutenant Commanders Pratibha Jamwal, P Swathi, and Lieutenants S Vijaya Devi, B Aishwarya and Payal Gupta. During the 254-day long voyage, the 55-foot sailing vessel covered over 22,000 nautical miles across five countries — Australia, New Zealand, Falkland Islands (UK), South Africa and Mauritius.
At each port they docked, the crew received a rousing welcome both from the Indian diaspora and also from the local community. The vessel has met all criteria of circumnavigation such as crossing the Equator twice, crossing all Longitudes, and also the three great capes (Cape Leeuwin, Cape Horn and Cape of Good Hope). The expedition was covered in six legs, with halts at five ports: Fremantle (Australia), Lyttleton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands), Cape Town (South Africa) and Port Louis (Mauritius).
The crew and the vessel encountered rough seas on numerous occasions during the voyage. The extremely cold climate coupled with stormy weather conditions especially in the Southern Ocean made the task daunting and challenging.
The vessel also witnessed winds in excess of 60 knots and waves up to 9-10 metres high, while crossing the Pacific Ocean. “Facing winds gushing at a speed of up to 60 miles with 9-10-metre high waves before navigating the Cape Horn was the worst experience,” said Lt Vartika Joshi. “We also encountered a whale while entering Indian waters near Goa. Dolphins and other kinds of aquatic fauna were our only companions while we were at sea for 194 days.”
“We have successfully shown that circumnavigation is not a prerogative of only men. What matters is training. We have proved that gender is not an issue when it is about winning challenges,” said Lt Commander S Vijaya Devi from Moirang, Manipur. She had received the Nari Shakti Award at the hands of President Ram Nath Kovind on the occasion of International Women’s day this year.
MEET THE CREW
Lt Cdr Vartika Joshi, Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
Lt Cdr Pratibha Jamwal, Kullu, Himachal Pradesh
Lt Cdr Swathi P, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh
Lt Aishwarya Boddapati, Hyderabad, Telangana
Lt Sh Vijaya Devi, Moirang, Kwakta Santhong, Manipur
Lt Payal Gupta, Dehradun, Uttrakhand
Before Tarini’s voyage, Indians have successfully completed two similar exercises. The first solo circumnavigation was undertaken by Commander Dilip Donde, SC (Retd) from Aug 19, 2009 to May 19, 2010 on board another indigenously-built vessel INSV Mhadei. It was later used by Lt Commander Abhilash Tomy for his own single-handed, unassisted, non-stop circumnavigation from Nov 1, 2012 to Mar 31, 2013.
TRAINED TO SAIL
The six officers trained under Captain Dilip Donde, the first Indian to solo-circumnavigate the globe
(Aug 19, 2009 to May 19, 2010) onboard the INSV Mhadei.
After the formation of the Ocean Sailing Node in Goa in Aug 2016, the all-women crew training was undertaken under Captain Atool Sinha, Officer-in-Charge, Ocean Sailing Node, an Asian Games Silver medallist for nearly two years.
The Navika Sagar Parikrama team also participated in the Cape to Rio Race 2017 on-board INSV Mhadei as part of mixed crew skippered by Captain Sinha and perfected their skill of sailing through rough weather, under his tutelage.
TeamTarini sailed for nearly 20,000 nautical miles on board INSV Mhadei and INSV Tarini as part of their training.