The team would be world’s first military all-women team to circumnavigate the world, and the first all-women team in Asia to undertake such a challenge.
At a press conference to announce the circumnavigation named Navika Sagar Parikrama, Chief of Personnel, Vice Admiral A.K. Chawla said: “We are committed to enlarging the role of women in the Navy. We have opened up several avenues, women pilots are flying Naval aircraft, and it is not a noble gesture, they are capable….
“We are moving in a gradual manner… there are many issues to address on sea, like accommodation, future progress, and induction as well. I hope over a period of time it will happen.”
The Indian Navy has not deployed women on warships yet.
Lt Cdr Vartika Joshi, who is leading the team and has become the first woman to be the skipper of any Indian Navy vessel, recalled the time when she found that the Navy was looking for women officers to volunteer for Cape to Rio race in 2014.
“I was sitting in front of the computer and wondering where life was taking me… I felt it was a dream come true,” she said.
Along with her in the team are Lt. Commanders Pratibha Jamwal and P. Swathi, and Lieutenants S. Vijaya Devi, B. Aishwarya and Payal Gupta.
The team would sail in a 55-foot long sailing vessel of the Indian Navy – INSV Tarini from Goa in early September.
Circumnavigation means the boat will be in open waters all the time and it cannot take any straits or canals on its way. It has to cross the equator at least once, and the total distance covered in the journey should be more than 21,600 nautical miles, the circumference of earth.
The around eight-month long journey will be covered in five legs with stop-overs at four ports — Fremantle (Australia), Lyttleton (New Zealand), Port Stanley (Falklands), and Cape Town (South Africa).
The ship has been made indigenously at Aquarius Shipyard Limited in Goa.
Ratnakar Dandekar, who made the ship, said it was made out of wood covered in fiber glass, to give it maximum strength for the testing journey it is to undertake.
According to Commander (retd) Dilip Donde, the first Indian to circumnavigate solo across the world and the man who trained the team, said the crew will face the roughest seas in their journey.
“The leg where they cross the Pacific Ocean is going to be the toughest. In the Indian Ocean, in monsoon, the highest waves are three-four metres, in the Pacific, on a day if the wave is below five metres high, it is considered a good day… In addition it is very cold,” he said.
This leg of the journey is expected to take around eight days.
The team is however prepared for the gruelling journey, and has already sailed in rough waters of Indian Ocean during monsoon, as well as participated in sailing race Cape to Rio 2017.