Sappers' voyage around the world | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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Sappers' voyage around the world

The Engineers were the pioneers in introducing sailing in the army both as a sport and as an adventure activity. Therefore, it was fitting that the Sappers Adventure Foundation should take the initiative to organise an around-the-world sailing expedition. Mandeep Singh Bajwa writes

chandigarh Updated: Sep 29, 2013 00:59 IST

The Engineers were the pioneers in introducing sailing in the army both as a sport and as an adventure activity. Therefore, it was fitting that the Sappers Adventure Foundation should take the initiative to organise an around-the-world sailing expedition.


A Swan 37 fibreglass yacht of 1970 vintage was purchased from Britain and renamed Trishna (Desire). The selected crew underwent a month-long training course at the Joint Services Sailing Centre, Gosport, and gained experience on the voyage back to India. Colonel (now Brigadier) TPS Chowdhury from Chandigarh was appointed the team manager with Major KS Rao, an experienced sailor, as the captain. Majors AK Singh, A Bhattacharya, AP Singh, SN Mathur, Captains S Shekhar, C Bharti, R Bassi, and Lieutenant N Ahuja formed the rest of the crew. Six officers were on board at any given time.

After detailed preparations, Trishna left Mumbai on September 28, 1985. Its route was around the Cape of Good Hope, up the South American coastline, through the Panama Canal and into the Pacific Ocean; then, via Tahiti, along the Australian coastline, Indonesia, Singapore, through the Malacca Straits into the Indian Ocean. Extremely rough seas were encountered at many places, with the stretch from Auckland to Sydney being the worst.

Berthhttp://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2013/9/Trishnaflying_compressed.jpging at Colombo on December 21, 1986, the Trishna ultimately reached Mumbai after an epic voyage covering 54,000 kilometres in 470 days on January 10, 1987. The valiant Sappers had become the first Indians to sail around the world!

Military Intelligence

The present controversy notwithstanding, military intelligence is a very dedicated, professional organisation. The Intelligence Corps is the army's eyes and ears. Its role was envisaged as acquiring information, protecting the army's secrets and personnel and countering the enemy's efforts to gain intelligence. That traditional responsibility has continued, albeit refined and sharpened, to counteract the new threats posed by an ever-changing, increasingly uncertain and dangerous security environment.

The Intelligence and Field Security Group is the army's information acquisition arm, conducting cross-border operations through a large number of field units located on India's frontiers. A very effective signals intelligence organisation using the latest technology provides information culled from target countries' or organisations' communication systems. Corps engaged in counter-insurgency tasks have resource-rich intelligence and surveillance units. These have been very effective in countering insurgency and terrorism. Signals intelligence has also played a large role in this area.

All formations have field security sections for protective security. The wider counter-intelligence role is performed by liaison units reporting to command headquarters, with detachments located in most stations. An army HQ liaison unit performs the same function in the National Capital Region. The navy and air force, while having no human intelligence (HUMINT) organisation, have very efficient systems for gathering technical intelligence (TECHINT). They do have structures in place for protecting their secrets and foil enemy attempts to learn these. Analysis of imagery gathered through technical means is a specialised job done by skilled professionals in the three Services. The Military Intelligence School at Pune trains intelligence specialists.

A strict charter mandates each unit's duties and responsibilities, leaving no scope for straying into territory best left to other intelligence services. The anonymous men and women, who work silently in the shadows to acquire information, secure the army, counter spies and combat insurgents, deserve nothing but our immense gratitude and unstinted support.

Please write in with your narratives of war and soldiering to msbajwa@gmail.com or call on 093161-35343