Indian Navy’s all-women crew circumnavigate the globe on INSV Tarini in 8 months
From a WhatsApp call from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Diwali, celebrating birthdays on the high seas, to being pounded by hurricanes and monstrous waves in the Pacific Ocean, the past 254 days were quite a roller coaster for the women of INSV Tarini who received a hero’s welcome on their return to Goa on Monday.
Amid fanfare befitting the historic occasion, as the Indian Navy Sailing Vessel burst into view at the Goa harbour, defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba and top naval officers stood at the jetty to greet the six-member crew that has become the first all-woman military team and the first Asian women’s team to circumnavigate the globe.
“There were some hard bits and fun times too during the last eight months,” said Tarini skipper Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, 28, on phone from Goa.
“Rounding Cape Horn (in January) was quite a challenge due to hurricanes and eight-metre-high waves. We had to make sure that the boat was not overpowered by the winds and the waves were behind us, always,” said Joshi. Other members of the crew were Lieutenant Commanders Pratibha Jamwal and P Swathi, and Lieutenants S Vijaya Devi, B Aishwarya and Payal Gupta. The Navika Sagar Parikrama team was flagged off from Goa on September 10, 2017.
The eight-month voyage was a gruelling endurance test for the women who volunteered for the expedition that covered more than 21,600 nautical miles. Tarini met all circumnavigation criteria, a navy statement said.
A voyage qualifies as circumnavigation if it starts and finishes at the same port, does not go through a canal or strait, all meridians are crossed at least once, and the distance covered is at least 21,600 nautical miles.
The crew halted at five ports: Fremantle (Australia), Lyttelton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands), Cape Town (South Africa) and Port Louis (Mauritius). Port Louis wasn’t on the itinerary but the vessel docked there after a steering-wheel malfunction. “We had to be very careful as the boat was limping after the steering-wheel glitch. But we made it to Port Louis somehow and fixed the snag,” said Joshi. The INSV Tarini is 17 metres long, five metres wide and has a displacement of 23 tonnes. It has been built at Goa by Aquarius Shipyard.
Joshi recalled calls made by PM Modi on Diwali and Sitharaman on Navy Day. “We made diyas out of flour and lit them up. The PM asked us about the distance we had covered and how the voyage was shaping up,” she said. Modi is expected to host a reception for them in Delhi soon.
Sitharaman said, “It’s not the girls achieving, it’s the youngsters from India achieving. The women of this country have shown that it is possible for the youngsters -- if they want to do something, they can indeed do it by showing commitment, grit and dedication.”
Lanba, too, heaped praise on the crew.