A ship sails tall and proud

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GLOBETROTTER: INS Tarangini sailing into Kochi.
GLOBETROTTER: INS Tarangini sailing into Kochi.

John L. Paul

INS Tarangini back in Kochi after voyage

KOCHI: INS Tarangini, the Indian Navy’s sole sailing ship, returned here on Monday after a 10-month voyage covering 22,000 nautical miles around the globe.

Its skipper, Commander Sunil Balakrishnan, spoke of the triumphs and the travails the team faced along the way.

A nightmare awaited Tarangini over the Atlantic Ocean. The steering gear broke down in the middle of the night, when the vessel was facing winds of 60 knots and huge waves. “It goes to the credit of the personnel on board that they rectified and restored the direction capability of the vessel that very night. Without steering we would be at the mercy of winds and the waves.”

The Commander recalled weather turbulence and other troubles the ship faced while sailing past Asia, Africa, North America and Europe.

When the vessel encountered storms and cyclones, it had to head in the direction of the wind with its sails tied up. Off the U.S. coast, it took three days to cover 100 miles.

The toughest part was the last leg, ahead of Kochi. “The weather was so adverse and visibility so low, blocking our view of the numerous ships that were going in the opposite direction. We relied solely on the vessel’s radar, and God, to sail into Kochi,” said Commander Balakrishnan.

He spoke of how the Indian communities living in port cities abroad welcomed the vessel with moist eyes.

Valuable experience

He said the voyage gave his cadets valuable experience to now enable them to steer sophisticated ships of the Navy.

It was a touching sight as the wives and children of the personnel on board crowded around at the wharf to get a glimpse of their near ones as Tarangini sailed into the Naval Base. Vice-Admiral S.K. Damle, Flag Officer Commanding in Chief of the Southern Naval Command, was heard remarking that the vessel itself seemed to slow down as it sailed past the family members of the crew.

The cadets were exposed to sailing in heavy winds, different aspects of navigation and so on. The vessel will now embark on a journey to countries in South-East Asia, from January to March 2008.

The ship set sail from Kochi on January 10 to participate in Tall Ships Races in the U.S. and to train cadets.

Trainees numbering 279 from the Indian Navy, 16 from the Indian Coast Guard and 18 from 15 countries — Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Djibouti, Eritrea, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, the U.K. and the U.S. — were on board.

Tarangini circumnavigated the globe from January to April 2004 with the theme ‘Building bridges of friendship across the oceans,’ and from April to November 2005 with the theme ‘Strengthening the bridges of friendship across the seas.’

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