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Get set, sail: All-women navy crew’s round-the-world voyage begins Sept 10

The sailors plan to go around the globe covering more than 21,600 nautical miles in eight months.

india Updated: Sep 06, 2017 11:51 IST
Rahul Singh
Rahul Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Indian Navy,Navika Sagar Parikrama,INSV Tarini
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the six-member crew of the Navika Sagar Parikrama mission in New Delhi on August 16. The Indian Navy’s all-women team plans to sail around the world in eight months. (Indian Navy handout)

A six-woman navy crew will on September 10 set sail from Goa to circumnavigate the globe, a gruelling test for the women who have volunteered for the expedition that will see them cover more than 21,600 nautical miles in eight months.

What will they eat, what’s their safety net and how have they prepared for the mission that the navy has appropriately named Navika Sagar Parikrama.

Here are 10 things you need to know about the mission, the crew and their boat.

1. The boat, Indian Navy Sailing Vessel (INSV) Tarini is 17 metres long, five metres wide and has a displacement of 23 tonnes. Built at Goa’s Aquarius Shipyard, it has a small engine to power the boat in and out of ports.

2. A voyage qualifies as circumnavigation if it starts and finishes at the same port, does not entail crossing a canal or strait, all meridians are crossed at least once and the distance covered is more than 21,600 nautical miles.

3. The journey will be covered in five legs, with stopovers at four ports -- Fremantle (Australia), Lyttleton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands), and Cape Town (South Africa). The longest leg of the journey, from New Zealand to Falklands, will take 45 days.

4. It is the first all-woman military team and the first Asian women’s team to attempt circumnavigation. Two Indian Navy officers, captain Dilip Donde (retd) and commander Abhilash Tomy, completed solo circumnavigation on INSV Mhadei in 2009-10 and 2012-13.

5. Both Donde and Tomy have been mentors to the women, who have been in the navy for five to seven years. Captained by lieutenant commander Vartika Joshi, other crew members are lieutenant commanders Pratibha Jamwal and P Swathi and lieutenants S Vijaya Devi, B Aishwarya and Payal Gupta.

6. The women will survive mostly on dry rations for most of the journey as the boat has no provision for refrigeration. They will begin their journey with 600 litres of water. An RO plant onboard the boat can give an output of 30 litres per hour. In an interaction with the media in August, Joshi said the crew would carry laptops, DVDs and loads of books to keep themselves entertained. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already met the crew and wished them luck.

7. The women have been trained to handle everything -- from equipment breakdown, extreme temperatures to emergencies such as a crew member falling overboard. “We will be facing some of the roughest seas on the planet. We learnt everything from scratch and have trained to handle whatever may come our way,” Joshi said.

8. The women have undertaken several preparatory missions. They have sailed on INSV Mhadei to Mauritius and back and also to Cape Town.

9. The navy will track the voyage to ensure the safety of the crew. “Once in a while we will send an aircraft to swing by and say hi to the crew. It will make them feel nice too,” said vice admiral Anil Chawla, the navy’s chief of personnel. He said search and assistance regions manned by different countries had been informed about the mission and the itinerary. The crew will steer clear of piracy-infested areas.

10. As many as 20 women had volunteered for the circumnavigation. Of the six finally selected, two are naval architects, another two are air traffic control officers and the remaining are from the navy’s education branch.

First Published: Sep 06, 2017 11:15 IST