PORBANDAR: In the first of its sorts, the Indian Navy decided to demonstrate its warfare and rescue skills to the people of Gujarat. It took aboard 300 odd local invitees and mediapersons to 'cruise' aboard the Leander class warship INS Taragiri on Sunday, accompanied by the smaller and swifter INS Vinash.
In an impressive show of strength, some 25 kms away from the Porbandar coast, these two ships demonstrated what the Navy has been doing silently, all the while. "We generally operate far from the limelight. The media or the common people have no access to sea or our operations," said Commodore Utpal Vora, Naval Officer in Command of the Gujarat Naval Area.
The Gujarat-born Vora, who is an anti-submarine warfare specialist, rued that, "the seagoing psyche is on a downward trend in Gujarat, the largest maritime state in India. We want the youngsters here to join Navy as they have a glorious past of exploring the oceans when others were unknown to it."
Commissioned in 1980, INS Taragiri, which has a 300 men crew, is equipped with torpedoes, guns, rockets, sonars, and a helipad and has handled trials of unmanned aerial vehicles. "We are a stretched Leander class ship capable of handling all types of warfare. We want people to know about our abilities and skills, as till now very few had the privilege of knowing us," said Commander G Prakash, the captain of the ship.
Just when people were getting curious about the Navy's successes, a senior officer said, "People know about the role that the Army and the Air Force played during the Kargil war. But little do they know about Navy." He added with pride, "Thirty Indian Naval ships parked themselves outside Karachi. Just 13 nautical miles from the harbour, in the contiguous waters. It did the trick. It conveyed to Pakistan what the warfare in Himalayas and diplomatic channels could not spell out. They started pulling out of Kargil."
No wonder a young officer told a bunch of shocked teenagers after they saw firepower demonstration, "Even after the Army and the Air Force launch an offensive, they can still call it off. But when the Navy is involved, there is no looking back. It's full-fledged war."
And war skills were not the only agenda. Rescue and search capabilities were of tremendous importance too. Both the ships showed how they synchronize at mid sea for transferring men and goods, how they rescue people and how they get refueled.
No wonder when visitors disembarked at Porbandar, along with adieus there were many a queries from the teenyboppers about how to join the Indian Navy!