Kochi: INS Sudarshini, the sail training ship of Indian Navy today set sail from Kochi on a historical mission to celebrate India’s warm ties with countries of ASEAN. Admiral DK Joshi, Chief of the Naval Staff flagged off the six month voyage to commemorate 20 years of dialogue partnership and 10 years of summit level partnership with countries of ASEAN. An ASEAN car rally is also scheduled later this year to commemorate this mile stone in India- ASEAN relations.
The Navy Chief spoke of the regional initiatives like IONS, MILAN and others which allows India to harness cooperative approaches and opportunities in the maritime domain. He also termed INS Sudarshini as India’s “Ambassador at Large” furthering the common vision of peace and prosperity
Ambassador Shyam Saran, Co Chair of the ASEAN Indian Eminent Persons Group, in his speech, said that INS Sudarshini’s voyage would trace the civilizational and historical links between Indian and South East Asia, but, more significantly, would also mark the contemporary maritime linkages of trade and technology, which are today contributing to the human resource development and the economic growth of India and countries of ASEAN. During the course of the 12,000 mile expedition of INS Sudarshini, she will visit 13 ports in 9 countries in South East Asia. Her Excellency (Ms) PG Datin Paduka Masrainah Ahmad , esteemed members of the eminent persons group, Head of missions of the countries of ASEAN countries and other senior members of the diplomatic corps and Naval Officers witnessed the event.
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. She has a crew of 31 in addition to 30 cadets who will learn the ropes of life at sea during the voyage. The ship will visit 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- are scheduled at these Ports in addition to people to people interactions. International trainees are also expected to be embarked on board in different legs of the voyage from countries of ASEAN to strengthen Navy to Navy ties. The ship will return to Kochi on 29 March 2013.
The ships flag off was marked by a fly past by Naval helicopters as well ceremonious escort by a Kerala boat with traditional drummers and sail boats.