Indian Navy’s training ship sets sail from Kochi
Kochi: Air Marshal T.S. Randhawa, Commandant of the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Pune, got wind of the maritime phrase “fair winds and following seas” on Monday even as he waited at the South Jetty here to see INS Tarangini, the Indian Navy’s lone sail training ship, embark on a four-nation sailing expedition with cadets from the country’s premier tri-services training institution.
He is happy that his cadets, a mix from the three military arms, will also learn to “understand each other’s language” during the voyage. For the Navy, there would not have been a better tribute to the NDA that celebrates its diamond jubilee next January.
Twenty-four NDA cadets in maroon T-shirts and grey shorts stood on the three masts of the ship as it set sail for the 15-day first phase of the voyage to Salalah in Oman.
From Salalah, it will travel for 14 days before docking at Port Victoria in Seychelles. There the current bunch of cadets will be replaced by another 27. The ship will then go to the Maldives and Sri Lanka before returning to Kochi on November 24. By that time, it would have travelled some 4,680 nautical miles.
“On its fifth major voyage lasting 64 days, Tarangini will have about 40 sailors and six officers on board apart from the cadets,” Commander A.S. Patankar, commanding officer, told The Hindu.
Barring eight cadets, the rest in the 51 are slated to join the Air Force and the Army. “Besides getting a taste of naval life, they are getting a chance to go overseas and interact with the international community,” said Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command Vice-Admiral Sunil K. Damle, who flagged off the expedition.
Not surprisingly, the cadets are as eager as Ulysses to roam with a ‘hungry heart.’ Said Cadet Shashank Bhargav, slated for the Air Force and is in his second year in the NDA: “In future I’d hardly have an opportunity to interact with the Navy. So it is chance of a lifetime.”
Then there is the fun quotient involved. “As the ship crosses the equator, we will play out an episode where Lord Varuna will put to trial those on board,” said Commander Patankar. “Maybe post-trials he will sentence a few to down a glass of sea water,” added Lieutenant Pankaj Dhyani.
Besides educating themselves on port calls and learning the basics of seamanship, the cadets are looking forward to buying souvenirs and mementos from the places they visit.
As Cadet P.S. Ranawat said: “I will go for electronic gadgets and perfumes in Salalah.”