Boat with all-women crew reaches home in Goa

Panaji, March 8 (IANS) Indian Navy’s sailing vessel ‘Mhadei’, which set sail from Visakhapatnam after participating in the International Fleet Review, reached its home port on Tuesday with its all-women crew.

The boat, which reached its home port on International Women’s Day, was skippered and crewed by an all-women crew of naval officers for the very first time.

Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, a naval architect, was appointed the first woman skipper of Mhadei on February 8 prior to the return voyage.

Mhadei’s crew includes Lieutenant P. Swathi, Lieutenant Pratibha Jamwal (air traffic control specialists), Lieutenant Vijaya Devi and Sub Lieutenant Payal Gupta (both education officers). The sixth crew, Lieutenant B. Aishwarya. is a naval architect and is expected to join the boat shortly.

These women officers are training to attempt to circumnavigate the globe in 2017.

To prepare themselves for the arduous voyage, they have undergone theoretical training in navigation, communication, seamanship and meteorology at the Navy’s various training establishments based at Kochi in August last year.

Since then, the officers have been training under the guidance and watchful eyes of Commander Dilip Donde, the first Indian to solo-circumnavigate the globe in 2009-10 on board Mhadei.

The rigorous training included sorties of various durations with Donde as well as working on the boat and training on the equipment fitted on board.

The officers sailed for the Fleet Review along with Donde and post the IFR, the Navy decided to appoint Lt Cdr Vartika Joshi as the skipper for the return journey.

Future plans for the boat include an independent voyage to Mauritius in May 2016. The officers will shift to a new boat of the same class as Mhadei that has been ordered by the Navy to M/s Aquarius Shipyard, Goa, and slated for delivery in February 2017. Mhadei and the yet-to-be-named boat are both completely made in India.

During the maiden voyage by these gritty women officers, Mhadei and her crew encountered moderately rough weather and heavy seas in the Gulf of Mannar.

The present Skipper, Lt. Cdr. Vartika Joshi, was part of the crew on board Mhadei for the return leg of the Cape to Rio race in 2013-14. Lt. Swathi was also part of the crew for the return leg of the boat from Cape to Goa.

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