They say when the sea is calm, every ship has a good captain. However, facing the storm is a gutsy act which draws something out of us that calm seas don’t. And a few women from the Indian navy has triumphed in not only facing the storm but also boldly leaving their mark on the oceans across the world.
Well, we are talking about the Indian navy’s daring all-woman crew that recently scripted history by successfully circumnavigating the globe in a 55-foot sailboat - INSV Tarini, in eight months.
Our society has often considered women too delicate for physical tasks, on the contrary, with their playbold attitude and determination, women have always succeeded in proving the world wrong. Just like these six spirited women, who have managed to set an inspiring example for the world that they are not only dressed in strength and dignity but they also dare to break the notions of antiquity in their most fearless forms.
With an intention to script history, these women from the Indian Navy started off the expedition named – Navika Sagar Parikrama, which was flagged off from the INS Mandovi boat pool on September 10, 2017.
Skippered by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, the crew had Lieutenant Commanders Pratibha Jamwal (Air Traffic Controller), Lieutenant Commander Patarapalli Swati (Air Traffic Controller), Lieutenant Aishwarya Bodapatti (Naval Architect), Lieutenant S Vijaya Devi (Education Corps) and Lieutenant Payal Gupta (Education Corps) as other members.
This all-women crew begin circumnavigating the globe through the roughest seas of the world carrying the tricolour on their sail and steadfast determination in their heart, thus boldly attempting what no other navy in the world has ever tried.
In the Indian Navy, women don’t typically go to the sea but this was the time to push the boundaries further, and with this, the concept of Navika Sagar Parikrama was born. “The expedition titled Navika Sagar Parikrama is in consonance with the national policy to empower women to attain their full potential. It also aims to showcase Nari Shakti on the world platform and help in transforming societal attitudes and mindset towards women in India by raising the visibility of their participation in challenging environs,” read a statement released by the Indian Navy.
Navika Sagar Parikrama, the first ever attempt by an all-women crew to circumnavigate the globe, was successfully completed in six legs, with stopovers at the Fremantle (Australia), Lyttleton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falkland Islands), Cape Town (South Africa) and Mauritius on board with naval vessel INSV Tarini by our bold and gutsy Indian Navy gals.
Sailing the oceans of the world is highly daunting. One has to face not only the rough sea but extreme temperatures and stormy weather conditions, but the team was determined to create history and bring glory to our nation. So, after rigorous training and tests, these six volunteers finally qualified for this historic journey. As part of training, the crew sailed approximately 20,000 nautical miles on board with INSV Mhadei and Tarini, which included two expeditions to Mauritius in 2016 and 2017 and a voyage from Goa to Cape Town in December 2016, getting all set for their adventuresome journey.
Captain Dilip Dhonde, the first Indian to solo-circumnavigate the globe from August 19, 2009, to May 19, 2010, onboard the Indian built vessel INSV Mhadei, was roped in as a mentor for the girls. Speaking about his inspiring training methods, he said, “I don’t differentiate between training six men or six women because neither will the sea. I believe people in life change at sea. So, I have always taught them to respect the nature.”
The life-changing journey at sea for the all-women bold crew was not easy. The team had to go through great difficulties facing extreme weather conditions. While on their mission they were stuck with several crises like a part of the outer panel of INSV Tarini was damaged, which was needed to be fixed immediately. But the girls skillfully handled all situations with their commitment and diligent efforts and managed to sail through every obstacle boldly.
They navigated choppy oceans amid raging storms and covered about 21,600 nautical miles. Overcoming all the stumbling blocks in their expedition and sustaining in every pitfall with courage, from massive storms to replenishments of ration and repairs, with their bold move they have become the trailblazer for making the difference.
The team, who has been training rigorously since 2015 to make everyone’s eyes shine in triumph, is undoubtedly an inspiration to all.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba welcomed the crew at INS Mandovi boat pool in Panaji after they completed the circumnavigation on May 21, 2018.
The minister said, “I just don't want to say that it is a pleasure (to receive the crew), I feel honored, and I feel humbled by the great achievement of these six women.” Speaking further about the achievement she added, “The feat is not about girls' achievement, it is (about) youngsters from India achieving and it is a whole motivation for the youth. The women of the country have shown to youngsters that if they want to do something they can do it indeed.”
“For me, it's a matter of conquering a feat that has been achieved by a chosen few,” says Lieutenant Commander Pratibha Jamwal, who comes from a landlocked area where people are scared of waters. As a child, she wasn’t even allowed to learn swimming considering her safety. “It’s not been an easy journey in terms of preparation but as they say 'the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war’,” she added.
The Indian navy’s all-women crew has set the bar high to inspire the world with their unflinching courage and has proved that with immense dauntless bravery and nerve to make the bold move, you can sail through any difficult storm in life.
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