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" ...and the joy of finding squids in our vessel was beyond any words", said Lt. Commander Vartika Joshi while describing this all women expedition around the world which showcases ‘Nari Shakti’ of India on the world platform.
Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Tarini entered Fremantle port on 23 October 2017 for two weeks during its maiden voyage to circumnavigate the globe. Upon arrival to Australian shores, they were given a warm welcome by High Commissioner of India to Australia Dr. A. M. Gondane and by the large number of local community.
INSV Tarini is skippered by Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, and the crew comprises Lieutenant Commanders Pratibha Jamwal, P Swathi, and Lieutenants S Vijaya Devi, B Aishwarya and Payal Gupta. The project ‘Navika Sagar Parikrama’ is the first time in India's history that an all-woman crew is circumnavigating the globe.
Speaking with SBS Hindi Radio, Lt. Commander Vartika Joshi said, “It reflects the National policy to empower women to attain their full potential. It showcases ‘Nari Shakti’ on the world platform. It helps to amend the social attitude and mindset towards women in India ".
She added that not many girls have chosen this career and it would now help change their preferences too.
She said that while they would study, monitor and report about marine pollution on the high seas, their expedition responsibility includes to collate and update meteorological, ocean and wave data in order to help the India Meteorological Department (IMD) better forecast the weather. The data will also be used for research and development by various Indian organizations.
So what were the challenges so far in the journey?
Ms Vartika said, ‘ … Everyday is full of challenges … There were times when sea was calm, no wind. This is when sailing becomes challenging as wind is like a fuel to a vessel. On the other hand, there were times when sea is rough. But we have been trained to face these challenges.” With a philosophical and spiritual input she said, “ … This helps us to have a better understanding of sea and ocean. … our bond with water… “
The crew has sailed approximately 20,000 nautical miles on board INSV Mhadei and INSV Tarini as part of their training for this journey, which includes two expeditions to Mauritius in 2016 and 2017, and a voyage from Goa to Cape Town.
During their two weeks stay in Perth, the crew of INSV Tarini had opportunity to meet with representatives of Western Australia Government, members of WA Parliament, and Councils of City of Perth and City of Fremantle.
Apart from interacting with students from local schools as well as with Indian diaspora, INSV Tarini crew also had chance to visit Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre at UWA, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission office & Bureau of Meteorology in Perth.
Remembering the interesting episode of journey, Vartika shared, “Two of the girls wanted to catch fishes. It was so disappointing that fishes just won’t show up. Finally, we were just 2 days away from this port, suddenly in the night, a wave showered 10-12 squids into the vessel.”
She added, “… I just can’t describe the joy of that moment in words…”
This historic journey began on 10 September 2017 from Goa India.
Defence Minister Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman flagged INSV Tarini from the INS Mandovi naval training base in Goa.
Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman said after flagging off the 'Navika Sagar Parikrama', "This is not an occasion which can happen once in five years, once in ten years. This is a historic day for India. A historic day, which will be marked in navigation history and globally, our women are going to stand out for doing something which mostly wouldn't even have been thought of, It is a great pleasure and it is an opportunity which no one can easily get. To be among, these great, inspired and well-motivated women sailors, who are going to take this challenge”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had personally met the six women officers sent out his wishes to INSV Tarini's crew through his tweets: "Today is a special day! 6 women officers of the Navy begin their journey of circumnavigating the globe on board INSV Tarini”. The entire nation comes together in wishing the all-women team of Navika Sagar Parikrama the very best in their remarkable endeavor."
INSV Tarini is now headed for its next stopovers to Lyttleton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands), and Cape Town (South Africa), before it reaches back home Goa in April 2018.
The journey will see INSV Tarini sailing through three oceans - Indian, Pacific and Atlantic.