Lt Cdr Vartika JoshiNew Delhi. 14 August 2018. Lt Cdr Vartika Joshi volunteered for Indian Navy’s expedition, Navika Sagar Parikrama – an all woman circumnavigation of the globe under sails on INSV TARINI. This expedition was unique as it was the maiden attempt by an all women naval officers crew to sail around the globe in a yacht, covering a distance of nearly 22,300 nautical miles (41,255 Km). Lt Cdr Vartika Joshi was nominated as skipper of the vessel and therefore her responsibility had increased manifold. Prior to setting sail on their global mission, the officer trained hard and mapped Indian Ocean and South Atlantic Oceans under sail, as part of their training for the arduous expedition. The officer had a minimum of 20,000 nautical miles of sailing experience to qualify for the challenge. Since, this was the first ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew, it highlighted women empowerment to the rest of the world and has set an example for other Indian women to emulate.

The expedition commenced on 10 Sep 17 from Goa and was completed on   21 May 18 at Goa. Thus, the officer, as a participant of the expedition spent more than spent more than 06 month (194 days) at sea and nearly 08 months away from home port. Such prolonged duration at sea in inhospitable conditions requires courage, determination and a never-say-die attitude. Also, the officer sailed through a number of oceans and seas, some of which are known to be constantly perilous because of prevailing rough weather and sea conditions. The entire voyage was completed using sails, regularly negotiating 10m waves and over 100 Kmph winds with the temperatures varying between 4 to 40 degree Celsius as the vessel traversed through different parts of the world. The officer was often over 4000 to 5000 Km from the nearest land and beyond the range of any meaningful rescue operation in the event of an emergency. In such trying circumstances, it is the skipper who is single handedly responsible for safety of the ship and crew, and Lt Cdr Vartika Joshi, as skipper, displayed courage, high professional acumen and motivational skills of high order to ensure successful culmination of the expedition.

At about 2000h on 14 Jan 18, as INSV Tarini negotiated the treacherous waters off the Cape Horn, often dubbed ‘the graveyard of ships’ owing to the dangerous seas conditions in the Pacific Ocean, she was overtaken by a cold front with winds gusting upto 130 Kmph. The turbulent weather caused large 10 meter high waves to come crashing down onto the boat thereby de-capacitating the crew. At this juncture the skipper deftly steered the boat keeping it safe by applying the best navigation and seamanship practices suited to the prevailing circumstances and sea conditions. The storm lasted for one whole day and the boat was maneuvered with exceptional daring and courage to remain afloat. The officer worked undauntedly to save the boat, thus avoiding a situation that could have required the launch of an international rescue effort.

Successful completion of circumnavigation voyage over 194 days at sea is a testimony of the raw courage, endurance and professionalism displayed by the officer and is in keeping with the finest traditions of the Navy. Lt Cdr Vartika Joshi (43077-A) is therefore strongly recommended for the award of Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry).