As two huge warships moved in parallel in mid-sea, a woman volunteered for an adventure. The Indian Navy was demonstrating its marine capabilities off the Chennai Coast on Wednesday when Karthiyayini offered to take part in the risky exercise of transferring personnel from one ship to another. While the ships moved at 14 knots (about 30 kmph), the 44-year-old medical practitioner followed instructions and moved swiftly from INS Kulish to INS Satpura.

Dr. Karthiyayini, wife of Commodore Amar K. Mahadevan, Naval Officer-in-charge, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, was aware that if the ships did not maintain the safe distance or move in unison, she would go down the water. Though the ships of different sizes bounced asymmetrically in the sea, a group of navy personnel tactfully pulled the ropes enabling the woman to cross the 40-metre stretch safely.

“Though the ropes are tested to sustain certain load, it holds good only when the ships maintain the safe distance. A minor deviation in the course by any of the ships can cause the ropes to snap…even if the ropes sag, the person being transferred will sink,” Commodore Mahadevan told The Hindu.

This was part of a series of events showcased by the Indian Navy as part of the ‘Day at Sea.’ Hundreds of people, including children, cheered as marine commandos landed on warships from helicopters. Led by Rear Admiral Atul Kumar Jain, Flag Officer Commanding (Eastern Fleet), the ships demonstrated simulated missile firing, anti-piracy and counter-terrorist operations. Among the guests were Puducherry Lieutenant Governor Virendra Kataria, Chennai Port Trust Chairman Atulya Misra, Regional Passport Officer Senthil Pandian and a host of senior defence officers.

Briefing media persons, Rear Admiral Jain said the Indian Navy had placed orders to acquire extremely potent warships, including aircraft carriers, guided missile destroyers and frigates. The strength of the fleet was expected to increase from the present 135 to 200 warships in the next ten years.

The Navy would procure four more Landing Platform Dock like the INS Jalashwa, an amphibious ship primarily designed to carry armed troops to distant shores. One aircraft carrier would be stationed in each of three naval commands. There was no specific threat along the eastern seaboard and the biggest challenge was to ensure safe trade. The force was fully equipped to protect the interests of fishermen, he added.

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