Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday flagged off Indian Navy's 'Navika Sagar Parikrama', the first ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew.
The expedition formally launched by Sitharaman is led by Lt. Commander Vartika Joshi and comprises of an all-women's naval crew, who have trained extensively for the forthcoming voyage.
Photos courtesy: SpokespersonNavy/Twitter
The crew has sailed approximately 20,000 Nm onboard INSV Mhadei and Tarini as part of training, which includes two expeditions to Mauritius (in 2016 and 2017) and a voyage from Goa to Cape Town in December 16.
INSV Tarini, a 55-foot sailing vessel has been built by M/s Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd, Goa, and was inducted into the Indian Navy earlier this year.
'Navika Sagar Parikrama' would be covered in five legs with stop-overs at four ports (same ports as Captain Dilip Donde called on) for replenishment of ration and repairs as necessary, before returning to Goa in April next year.
The first Indian solo circumnavigation was undertaken by Captain Dilip Donde of the Indian Navy.
"The project is considered essential towards promoting ocean sailing activities in the Navy while depicting the government of India's thrust for 'Nari Shakti'," a Defence Ministry statement said.
"This is not an occasion which can happen once in five years, once in ten years. This is a historic day for India. A historic day, which will be marked in navigation history and globally," Sitharaman said, after flagging off the 'Navika Sagar Parikrama', at the INS Mandovi naval training base near Panaji.
"Our women are going to stand out for doing something which mostly wouldn't even have been thought of," the minister said.
"It is a great pleasure and it is an opportunity which no one can easily get. To be among, these great, inspired and well-motivated women sailors, who are going to take this challenge," she said.
Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's address at the flagging off ceremony. (Raksha Mantri/Twitter)
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also wished the women officers well ahead of their journey.
"Today is a special day! Six women officers of the Navy begin their journey of circumnavigating the globe on board the INSV Tarini," Modi tweeted. "The entire nation comes together in wishing the all-women team of ANavika Sagar Parikrama the very best in their remarkable endeavor," he added.
"Our six daughters riding the waves of the high seas, with courage, is the first instance of its kind in the world," the Prime Minister said.
The updates of their journey would be available on the Narendra Modi app. "I am making a separate arrangement for their experiences on the Narendra Modi App to ensure that you can read it. This is a tale of heroism, a tale of personal experiences, and I would be happy to bring you the stories of these daughters. My best wishes and blessings to these daughters," the PM had said earlier.
An all-women team of Indian Navy is led by Lt. Commander Vartika Joshi, along with Lt. Commanders Pratibha Jamwal and P. Swathi, and Lieutenants S. Vijaya Devi, B. Aishwarya and Payal Gupta.
The gruelling journey would take them through some of the roughest seas.
The around eight-month-long journey would be covered in five legs with stop-overs at four ports -- Fremantle (Australia), Lyttelton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands), and Cape Town (South Africa).