Indian Navy’s Navika Sagar Parikrama mission is about to begin. It will have the first Asian crew of six women officers to circumnavigate the globe. After a rigorous training of two years, the officers, led by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, are all set to face the roughest seas onboard INSV Tarini.
“We need to cross the Cape Horn, which is the southernmost point on the planet. Crossing that, we will be taking a halt at Faulkland Islands, which is the last leg of the sail before we come back to India. So the entire circumnavigation will take about eight months’ time, starting September. We intend to finish around May 2018,” Joshi said about the route. She added that they will be stopping only four times to re-fill their basic amenities.
The expedition will begin from Goa. From there, they will sail to Freemantle in Western Australia in about 37 days. The following stretches are expected to be shorter—about 22 days to reach Lyttleton in New Zealand then Faulkland and lastly, Capetown.
The crew comprises Joshi from Rishikesh, Lt Cdr Pratibha Jamwal from Kullu, Lt Cdr Swathi P. from Visakhapatnam, Lt Aishwarya Boddapati from Hyderabad, Lt Vijaya Devi from Moirang Kwakta Santhong in Manipur and Lt Payal Gupta from Dehradun. They were all mentored by Cpt. Dilip Dhonde. They will sail round the equator twice and the international dateline once.
The women officers stocked up on movies and books to keep themselves entertained
There is 600 litres of water, an RO plant creating 30 litres of water an hour, dry ration to cook food on board since there won’t be a refrigerator. The officers have also packed in a collection of movies and books to keep themselves entertained during leisure times in the boat.
To keep an eye out on the crew, Vice Admiral A.K. Chawla, the chief of personnel of the Indian Navy, said, “There are search and assistance regions in the world and we have intimated the countries that coordinate with them. They know the approximate time that the boat will reach their vicinity. There are certain mandatory check-ins that the boat has to do.”
He added, “We coordinate with and monitor search and rescue agency in the maritime operation centres in Delhi and Mumbai. They will swing into action immediately in case of emergency. Also, wherever we can, we do send an aircraft in range once in three four days as part of the routine patrol and similarly the other countries also follow this operation. Safety is always a concern, but there are enough safeguards in the boat as well.”
Talking to SheThePeople.TV, Joshi said she had “affinity for adventure” and that inspired her to take on the unprecedented task. “I am from the mountains. I had never seen the oceans till I joined the Navy. So I felt it was quite thrilling and exciting to venture into the oceans. And that triggered me to volunteer for this,” she said.
“I am from the mountains. I had never seen the oceans till I joined the Navy. So I felt it was quite thrilling and exciting to venture into the oceans. And that triggered me to volunteer for this,” Lt Cdr. Vartika Joshi
Another officer, Payal Gupta, told us how supportive her family is of her decision to sail with the Indian Navy. “I told my family that I am going to volunteer for this mission and I am praying I get selected. And my mom said that I’ll also pray that you get selected because you want to do this. So my mom and dad are the happiest with this news.”
She also pointed out that when you are doing something for the first time, you feel a bit scared. “I was very happy and excited when I went for my first expedition from Goa to Vizag. But there was a time when the sea became rougher and the boat was banging down and swinging. I used to ask my seniors if the boat would be alright, whether it will break and if we will reach home safe. Also, when you go for sailing, you get used to it after some time.”
The crew is ready to take on the sea. While preparing for the great adventure, it is constantly sailing increasingly long distances. This is the first time a military women’s team is circumnavigating the planet. With this, India is stretching its horizon in the maritime capabilities on the world map.