INS Sudarshini, India Navy’s sail training ship returned home to Kochi today after an epic voyage of over six months to South East Asia. The ship, which set sail from Kochi on 15th September, visited 9 countries in South East Asia on a commemorative voyage celebrating India’s warm ties with countries of ASEAN. INS Sudarshini traversed over 13700 nautical miles with 121 days at sea during the voyage, which was a collaborative venture of Ministry of Defence and Ministry of External Affairs. Shri AK Antony, Defence Minister of India was a Antony, Defence Minister of India was at the pier at the Naval Base here to receive her. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Antony said that neighbours need not share borders but common goals and interests. Noting that India and ASEAN countries share a common heritage through 2000 years of history, Shri Antony said that the voyage is a reaffirmation of India’s commitment to strengthening economic, cultural and diplomatic bonds with those countries. He also hoped that the common challenges and strategic interests of India and ASEAN will take the relations even further forward. The Defence Minister also had fulsome praise for the Commanding Officer and crew of INS Sudarshini as they became Ambassadors of the country in all the ports they visited.
Vice Admiral Satish Soni, Flag Officer Commanding in Chief Southern Naval Command who also spoke on the occasion, expressed happiness at the achievement of the crew of the ship and said that the vagaries of weather in South China Sea have turned the cadets on board Sudarshini into men. The ship also embarked international trainees and officers on different legs of the voyage, cementing the warm ties with the Navies in that region. Various “Marker” events –commercial and cultural, were hosted by India at the 12 ports of call as she sailed across time zones and unfurled the Tri-Colour on numerous friendly shores. Commander N Shyamsunder and the crew of ship hosted thousands of visitors including school children in all her port calls. The port calls included Padang,Bali and Manado in Indonesia, Port Muara in Brunei, Cebu and Manila in Philippines, Da Nang in Vietnam, Sihanoukville in Cambodia, Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand, Singapore, Port Klang in Malaysia, and Sittwe in Myanmar. Heads of Missions and Diplomats of countries of ASEAN also attended the end of voyage ceremony. Earlier, INS Sudarshini sailed into the port of Kochi accompanied by numerous craft and Navy helicopters. The crew of ships in harbour waved and cheered along with the families of the crew as they waved welcome flags.
(Text and photos by Ministry of Defence, New Delhi)