7 Feb 2014

Navy Sail Ship Sudarshini Forges Friendship in South East Asia

INS Sudarshini Indian Navy’s sail training ship sailed into Kochi harbour on 25th March after more than six months of voyage across South East Asia. The Ship was on a mission to demonstrate India’s historical proximity with its ASEAN neighbours and to commemorate the longstanding ASEAN-India maritime and trade relationship. 

The expedition a collaborative venture of Ministry of Defence and Ministry of External Affairs, also enhanced people-to-people and naval links between India and the ASEAN nations. Admiral DK Joshi, Chief of the Naval Staff who flagged off the ship at Kochi on 15th September, said that INS Sudarshini was an Ambassador at large furthering the common vision of peace and prosperity. 

            INS Sudarshini a three masted barque is part of the First Training squadron of the Southern Naval Command and is commanded by Commander N Shyamsunder. It has a crew of 31 in addition to 30 cadets who learned the ropes of life at sea during the voyage. 

INS Sudarshini traversed over 13700 nautical miles with 121 days at sea during the voyage.  The ship visited the ports of Padang, Bali, Manado (Indonesia), Port Muara (Brunei),Cebu, Manila (Philippines), Da Nang (Vietnam), Sihanoukville (Cambodia), Bangkok (Thailand), Singapore, Port Klang,(Malaysia) Phuket (Thailand), and Sittwe (Myanmar). 

Various events – cultural and business- were held at these Ports in addition to people to people interactions. International trainees embarked on board during different legs of the voyage from countries of ASEAN to strengthen Navy to Navy ties. Thousands of visitors including school children graced the deck of Sudarshini in the ports that were visited.

            The epic voyage demonstrated the versatility of Indian Navy which deployed INS Sudarshini as a soft power in furthering the nation’s interests abroad.  Shri AK Antony who flew down to Kochi to welcome the ship back after the voyage said that neighbours have common goals and interests but not always a common border. 

He expressed the optimism that the voyage of INS Sudarshini would bring India and the countries of ASEAN even closer in furthering their common challenges and strategic interests.  INS Sudarshini had braved rough weather for four days during a severe NE monsoon in the northern part of South China Sea. The tropical storm “Sonamu” in the southern part of South China sea also tested the nerves and professionalism of the crew. 

The captain’s blog and crew’s messages from INS Sudarshini were avidly followed by over 1,25,000 followers indicating that the voyage had captured the imagination across all age groups and geographical boundaries. Vice Admiral Satish Soni, Flag officer Commanding in Chief expressed happiness at the fact that the cadets on board Sudarshini had become men after weathering the vagaries of weather and life at sea.

 A large contingent of the senior members of the diplomatic corps of ASEAN nations were at Kochi during the ships departure ceremony as well as end of voyage ceremony.

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