Women’s power shines at International Fleet Review

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Visakhapatnam, Feb 6 (IANS) Though the mightiest of ships were on display at the International Fleet Review (IFR) off Visakhapatnam coast on Saturday, one small boat in the flotilla could not be ignored.

INSV Mhadei, the Indian Navy’s sail vessel that has several feats in its list of achievements, stood out with an all-women crew who will soon be going on an expedition on the boat.

On this sailor-made boat, Commander Dilip Donde became the first Indian national to complete a single-handed circumnavigation under sail in an Indian-built boat.

It was later used by Commander Abhilash Tomy for his own single-handed, unassisted, non-stop circumnavigation under sail.

The all-women crew that will go globe-sailing next has naval architect Lt. Cdr. Vartika Joshi, Lt. Pratibha Jamwal and Lt. P. Swathi in the core group, besides Lt. Vijaya Devi and Sub Lt. Payal Gupta.

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Women may be less in number in the Indian navy, but its women’s power nonetheless impressed a naval officer from France, one of the few women officers who are part of the various delegations from international navies.

Lt. Tina of the French Navy said she was impressed with the women officers of India.

“I am happy to see the women officers in Indian Navy, its impressive,” Lt. Tina, who did not want to reveal her second name, told IANS.

Tina is based currently in Abu Dhabi.

Talking about women in the French Navy, the officer said: “You can do pretty much any thing, but we do not have women in commando forces.”

French Navy does have women on warships, something Indian Navy has said it plans to do in future.

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Tina said women comprise around 13 percent of the French Navy.

Women form a very minor section in the armed forces, with the IAF having the highest number at 1,350 followed by the army with 1,300 and the navy with 450 women officers, according to official information.

The 1.3 million-strong armed forces have 59,400 officers.

A glass ceiling was broken recently when the Indian Air Force announced it will soon be inducting women fighter pilots.

The Indian Navy is now planning to induct women as pilots for reconnaissance aircraft.

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