Sunday, December 4, 2022

The Navy Day


A long association with the Navy always triggers a chain of fascinating memories on this day. Historically, this day is celebrated to commemorate the victory during the 1971 Indo-Pak war when the Navy turned the tide by mounting attacks on the enemy ships and Karachi port that changed the course of the war.It finally resulted in the first recorded history of a win in the war.  Every time I stepped on board a ship from the day I joined the service, my chest would swell with the pride to be a part of this great service. 

The day when I first landed at Kochi Harbour Terminal by train, little did I realize that my life will change forever. After the gruelling training at the Naval Academy, I learnt lessons that would serve me in good stead in the years to come. Some of these included the physical toughness, camaraderie, and bonds with fellow trainees that strengthened with time. I still remember my first sea acquaintance was on board ' INS Brahamputra which was based in Kochi. The ship was commanded by Cdr Janardan Dev, a tough sailor and a strict disciplinarian. A short stint on board the ship made me familiar with small crafts like tying knots, to reading maps. I also familiarised with a host of things I had never seen in my life like the complex engine room, navigation aids, the radars, echo sounders to name a few. How quickly the days passed. I first got a glimpse of Mumbai's coastline one morning when the ship entered the harbour.

Those were the times when one got an opportunity to learn every day. The time flew by with more training at Jamnagar, Lonavala before I was an active member with an assigned responsibility on board the premier aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. Till the last day in service with the Navy, INS Vikrant was another mother where the bond continued in every rank and appeared that the umbilical cord was never cut! My association on board this ship was for over five years and the stories of the time onboard the ship would appear like a fantasy or a fairytale! As a young officer, not only did I see the political luminaries. but also megastars of Bollywood like Amitabh Bachaan, Rekha, Zeenat Ama, Praveen Babi, Padmini Kolhapure, Asha Bhosle and RD Burman just to name a few that were the guests onboard for the premiere of 'Shaan' .

The sailing in rough weather, with sea waves touching a height of 30 feet gave an experience of a thrill of what I would have missed, had I not joined the Navy. I witnessed the induction of Vertical Take Off and Landing Sea Harrier aircraft, night flying from the deck of the ship, booming guns of the newly inducted L-70 Bofors guns and so much more. Every exercise on board a ship was as much an adventure as every other day on the sprawling ship.

The kaleidascope of memories will keep on weaving endless patterns that will go beyond the length of a normal blog post. There are memories of ' Sailing Regatta' in Goa, ' Muskeetry Championship' at Coimbatore, a trek from  Karjat to Matheran, night march from Jamnagar to Okha through the desert are just a very few adventures that flicker before my eyes.

Recently, in the month of September, I got a rare opportunity to witness the unveiling of the newly built aircraft carrier 'INS Vikrant' at Kochi! Never in my wildest imagination I had thought, that I too would be a guest to attend the dedication of the ship by our prime minister Narendra Modi to the nation. It was heartening to see the old veterans with whom I had rubbed shoulders more than three decades back admiring in awe the newly built indigenous ship.

It is a matter of pride that three girls have joined the ranks of under training officers for the Navy at the premier training establishment, the National Defence Academy at Kharakvasla near Pune, this year. I am sure in the years to come the Navy will achieve many more laurels and do our country proud.

PS- All pictures and the video kind courtesy Google and You Tube