The Indian Navy now wants to expand its footprint to the South Pole. Bitten by the adventure bug after scaling Mt Everest in 2004, the Navy is on the verge of scripting adventure history as it prepares for its first-ever polar quest later this year.
A 10-member naval crew, chosen from the best and most experienced ranks, has just completed training in the Greenland Ice Cap Arctic Circle region and evolved strategies for the upcoming expedition. The crew will face blinding, shrieking blizzards and temperatures of up to minus 100 degrees under the leadership of Commander Satyabrata Dam, a joint director in the navy's directorate of adventure and sports.
“The 10-member team will fly from India to Chile and assemble at a forward US naval installation before charting a course for the South Pole on skis,” a senior navy officer told HT.
On September 7, Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash will announce the polar expedition, which also marks an important image-building campaign for the force.
Though the Navy has its own public relations (PR) wing like the other two services, it has hired the services of a leading PR firm to publicise the mega-event. To prepare the crew-members for polar challenges, Commander Dam has just led them to scale the highest peak in Iceland, trek Europe’s biggest glacier - Vatnajokull glacier - and traverse over 600 km in the Arctic region on skis.
The pre-polar mission helped tone up endurance levels and more importantly - confidence, as the crew survived terrain riddled with deadly crevasses deep enough to swallow sky-scrappers, negotiated wind-sculpted “sastrugi (surface irregularities on snow)” and furious ice-melt streams.
A British Royal Navy team is also training for a trek to the South Pole in November 2006, having conquered the North Pole earlier.