India's First All-Woman Crew on Around-the-Globe Mission
A team of six naval officers are starting a historic and gruelling around-the-world mission on Sunday -- the first circumnavigation of the globe by an Indian all-female crew.
Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi, who is leading the voyage which will begin in the western state of Goa, told AFP the project was "revolutionary" in bringing women to the helm and would inspire others in the country.
In recent years, the Indian navy has sought to open its doors to women to take on more challenging roles, with the latest project winning the backing of Prime Minister Narendra Modi who urged the crew to "project India's capabilities and strengths across the world".
The navy commissioned a 17-metre (56-foot) yacht "Tarini" in February for the mission, with the crew kicking off preparations for the voyage in 2014.
"For me it's a matter of conquering a feat that has been achieved by a chosen few," Lieutenant Commander Pratibha Jamwal told AFP.
"It's not been an easy journey in terms of preparation but as they say 'the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war'," she added.
Retired naval officer Captain Dilip Dhonde, who undertook India's first solo around-the-world expedition in 2009-10, mentored the crew.
The team sailed twice to Mauritius and once to Cape Town in preparation.
"It is going to boost the spirits of everybody across the country. Not just women but it can also be an inspiration for the male counterparts. Our aim is to rekindle the spirit of adventure," Joshi said.
Their journey will feature stops in Australia, New Zealand, the Falkland islands and South Africa. They are expected to return to Goa in March next year.