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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

Six women, a boat and 21,600 nautical miles: 10 facts about Indian Navy mission

All-woman navy crew will begin their voyage in a 55-foot vessel, Tarini, from Goa and is expected to return in March 2018 after completing the circumnavigation.

india Updated: Aug 17, 2017 18:49 IST
Rahul Singh
Rahul Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the crew in New Delhi on Wednesday. This is the first-ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the crew in New Delhi on Wednesday. This is the first-ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew.(Navy handout)

A six-woman navy crew will kick off their voyage to circumnavigate the globe in the first week of September from Goa. The eight-month voyage will be a gruelling endurance test for the women who have volunteered for the expedition that will see them cover more than 21,600 nautical miles.

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

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

1. The boat, Indian Navy Sailing Vessel (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. 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 voyage 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 on Thursday, Joshi said the crew is carrying laptops, DVDs and loads of books to keep themselves entertained. PM Narendra Modi had met the crew on Wednesday and wished them luck for the challenging mission.

7. The women have been trained to handle everything from equipment breakdown, extreme temperatures to emergencies such as 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,” said Joshi.

8. The women have undertaken several preparatory missions ahead of the big one. 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.