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Sunday, 17 October 2010





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Training on Indian ships a boon to naval cadets

Sailing Ship the INS Tarangini

Miles of ropes connected to a large sheet of cloth designed to catch the wind connected to the massive mast in the canter of the ship, may baffle anyone who boarded this ship which was anchored in the Colombo harbour last week.

Dozens of midshipmen of the Sri Lanka Navy climbed the mast to have a first hand experience of catching the wind into the sails to propel the ship forward using miles of ropes connected to the sails of INS Tarangini-a Sailing Ship from the Indian Navy which arrived at the Colombo harbour on a good will visit.

Using their hands they propelled the ship forward and manoeuvred it in the sea struggling with the changing wind pattern and currents in the sea.

It seems to be a rare and tiring experience for a naval cadet in his path to become a career naval officer but is an essential part of his training. “If you undergo your naval training at the prestigious Dartmouth Naval and Martime Academy UK you may not be allowed to come out of the camp unless you get the basic certificate in handling sailing boats or ships.”

“We have to show the certificate to go out of the camp. That was an essential qualification for a naval officer and there was no point of becoming one without that essential qualification of handling a Sailing Ship”, said Navy Commander Vice Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe recalling his memories of handling Sailing Ships.

“I also underwent such training when training in UK 35 years ago. I sailed to Cherbourg in France through the British channel using a 20 meter long Sailing Ship. I sailed from Dartmouth to Cherbourg and some fishing harbours in the UK”, he added.

Navy Commander, Vice Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe says President Mahinda Rajapaksa has given approval to the Sri Lanka Navy to build its own ship to provide training to naval cadets as it is a must for them to have training on board a Sailing Ship.

The Navy Commander says that the ship will be produced locally making use of the expertise available with the Sri Lanka Navy.

The Navy Commander is keen in providing that essential training which he underwent as a naval cadet 35 years ago for the naval cadets of Sri Lanka.

Officer cadets of the Sri Lanka Navy have no chance to go on a big ship for that essential training. However, the arrival of ‘Tarangini’ provided the chance for 25 midshipmen of the Sri Lanka Navy to have that training in the western seas of Colombo.

The opportunity was provided to them when four Indian naval ships, INS “Tir”, INS “Shardul”, INS “Tarangini” and ICGS “Varuna” of the Indian Naval 1st Training Squadron, arrived in Sri Lanka on October 9, on a goodwill visit.

Commanding officers of the visiting Indian naval ships, Captain Sanjeev Issar and Commanders AN Promod and Manish Sain with Ddefence Advisor to the Indian High Commission in SL called on the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy, Vice Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe at Naval Headquarters, Colombo.

Navy Commander, Vice Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe addresses the midshipmen in training on board the INS Tarangini.

INS “Tir”, INS “Shardul” and ICGS “Varuna” arrived at the Port of Trincomalee while INS “Tarangini” arrived at the Port of Colombo. They were ceremonially welcomed in accordance with naval traditions.

While ‘Tarangini’ provided training in the Western seas the other three Indian Naval Training Ships with SLN officer trainees on board commenced sailing from the Port of Trincomalee to reach Colombo on October 12.

Whilst sailing between Trincomalee and Colombo, the SLN officer trainees had a practical training on a wide range of subjects -seamanship, communication, coastal navigation, life saving, replenishment at sea, fire fighting, damage control and anchoring.

The Sri Lanka Navy arranged a special program for the visiting cadets.

The Indian cadets toured the Trincomalee Naval and Maritime Academy, Sri Lanka Military Academy and the Sri Lanka Air Force Academy in Diyatalawa during their stay in Sri Lanka.

“I grabbed the opportunity to provide our naval cadets to have this training with the support of the Indian Navy. I am also trying to give them training on board the small sailing boats available with us to acquire knowledge”, he added.

Ships in the past sailed guided by the stars. The navies across the globe must learn this ancient method although they have modern technology and satellite systems to guide them in the sea.

“What I need to stress to our naval cadets through this training is that they use their hands to tie a knot properly, to fix a rope properly, things. That would help sailors save their lives at sea”, he said. When ships are fixed with engines their manoeuvre is easy. Currents change on a daily basis, seas can be stormy or calm. In darkness or in day light, under rainy weather or under bright sunshine - sailors should be prepared to work under all circumstances.

“We can’t go straight when we sailing. We must zigzag. The Captain of the ship and the minors are equal. Leadership, team work and team spirit should be with them”, the Navy Commander said.

“Physical toughness mental toughness out at sea makes you a great personality.

An Indian naval ship in Trincomalee.

Indian naval cadets disembark.

Naval cadets in training on board the INS Tarangini.

Leadership blossoms when you are out at sea . When you are faced with a problem out at sea you cannot retreat from your position. You have to face the situation overcoming all odds”, he said.

“You cannot go against the tide. We have to move with the tide and get to the required destination.

“The cradle of leadership is on the seas. If you can give leadership to a group of people. There you can lead them on the ground more effectively”, he said.

The Sri Lanka Navy must prepare itself to face post conflict challenges.

“Protecting the shores of the country from drug traffickers, monitoring and providing security for the boats going out to sea for fishing and to protect maritime resources are the foremost challenges before the Sri Lanka Navy. To do all these things we have need of trained Naval officers”, he added.

The Navy Commander also said that the good relationship the Navies of Sri Lanka and India maintain at present have been of mutually of benefit.

“Through these type of training programs we invest for the future. The relationship that developed during this joint Naval training will help maintain bilateral relationship between the two countries”, he added.

“The training reflects the goodwill, friendly relationships and mutual co-operation that exist between the two friendly Navies”, he added.

Commanding Officers of the visiting Indian Naval ships, Captain Sanjeev Issar, Commander AN Promod and Commander Manish Sain called on the Commander of the Sri Lanka Navy Vice Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe at the Naval Headquarters in Colombo.

They were accompanied by Defence Adviser to the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka Captain Sumeet Kappor.

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