Navy plans all-woman crew for circumnavigation

Navy plans all-woman crew for circumnavigation

The Indian Navy is all set to have an all-woman crew for its adventure sport yacht Mhadei, and the first one of them, Lt Cdr Shweta Kapur, is already on-board, sailing in the high seas halfway across the globe.

This is a new chapter in India’s maritime history, as a woman is undertaking a voyage on an Indian vessel that will pass through dangerous zones in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. More than 30 boats are participating in an international yacht race that has begun from Cape Town and will terminate at Rio de Janeiro in about three weeks' time.

Kapur is the first woman to participate in the race. Two other women trained by the Navy for solo sailing in the high seas are Lt Vartika Joshi and Sub Lt P Swati.

Mhadei has already successfully undertaken two circumnavigations — first in 2009-10 under Commander Dilip Dhonde and then non-stop in 2012-13 under Lieutenant Commander Abhilash Tomy. In the last four years, it has logged over 80,000 nautical miles. For the 2014 race, Mhadei set sail under Lt Cdr Tomy from Goa on Nov 15 and reached Cape Town on Dec 27 after an arduous journey of over 5,000 miles. The race began on Sunday.

“The first night from Cape Town was stormy, but then all first nights are meant to be stormy,” tweeted Tomy about the voyage.

On completion of the race, Mhadei will return to Goa, with a crew turnaround at Rio and Cape Town. A lady officer will be part of the crew in each leg of the voyage along with team-mates including Cmdr Dhonde. By the time Mhadei returns to Goa, Indian Navy would have trained three lady officers in ocean-sailing.

These officers will form the core team of a prospective “all-woman crew” for a circumnavigation of the globe. A subsequent solo circumnavigation by a lady officer is also planned, said a Navy spokesperson.

In the first leg, between India and Cape Town, Kapur and Dhonde were accompanied by Commander M V V Satish and Commander T G S Bedi.

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