The Indian Navy sailing vessel INSV Mhadei, skippered and crewed by an all-women crew of naval officers for the very first time, entered the Indian Chennai Port on February 13.
The 17-meter sail boat left Visakhapatnam after concluding participation in the International Fleet Review on February 9 and is scheduled to make stops at Chennai and Kochi ports enroute before reaching her home port at Goa.
Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, a Naval Architect, was appointed as the first woman Skipper of Mhadei on February 8 just prior to her return voyage.
The boat is crewed by Lieutenants P Swathi, Pratibha Jamwal (Air Traffic Control specialists), Vijaya Devi and Sub Lieutenant Payal Gupta (both Education officers). The sixth member of the crew, Lieutenant B Aishwarya is an Engineer and is expected to join the boat next month.
The women officers are training to form an all-women crew that would attempt to circumnavigate the globe next year. Mhadei will remain at the Ports of Chennai (13-16 Feb) and Kochi (23-26 Feb) on her return journey. She is scheduled to return to Goa on March 2.
According to the Indian Navy, this is the first all-women crew to man any ocean-going sailing boat of the Navy. All the crew members are volunteers and are driven by their passion for adventure and a love for sailing and the seas.
The Madhei was built at the Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd shipyard based on the Tonga 56 design and delivered to the Navy in February 2009. The upcoming circumnavigation will not be the first for the ship as it already completed two of them, one in 2010 and one in 2012 when the Indian Navy Lt Cdr Abhilash Tomy became the first Indian to complete a single-handed, unassisted, non-stop circumnavigation.