Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A Meeting With Storm

             When we meet up with mystic for the first time, it is human nature to be anxious. Such was the framed mind of the entire ship’s company when they came to know of the impending storm. Tarangini had left Le Havre after a 02 week maintenance period and was aware of the interesting times in store for her in the Bay of Biscay. Camaraderie among the sea farers across the world was at its best as every vessel or coast guard station passing us kept briefing us on the weather ahead and the warning us of the reputation of Bay of Biscay. These continuous ticks gave the Command Team all the right reasons and inputs to dive into the details. Soon the weather reports from various sources were collated and a not so happy picture emerged. Time and again, the requirement for brave words and actions began. The cap with the brass rose to the lead and gave the heads of the ship a detailed briefing, where the priorities were sorted out and the tactics required for the crew to survive the unexpected outlined.

Fig 1: Wind Speed 66 Knots

Safety topped the list which included every single soul to all the seasoned and darkened wood. Requirement was to maximize on the available resources and man power over a period of four days. Hence all the duties and routines were revamped and a new storm organization was set into place. It was remarkable to see how the ship’s company could so easily transform and make it available to the new organisation. Incidentally, we, ‘The Third Batch of 88 IOTC’, were only a couple of days old on the ship. The words from the old man, “What better way to earn ones sea legs than face an Atlantic Storm?”, thus had an ulterior meaning to them. On this ship the Trainees form an important part of the sail organization and they play a very significant role in the day to day operation of the ship. We were thus ‘The Lucky Ones’ of our course to experience life at sea first hand, the cool side and the cruel side. Strict restrictions were put into place and the crew was put through detailed and regular briefing about the Do’s and Don’ts of every situation with every person nominated along with his buddy for specific tasks. Every person was expected to be tethered to his buddy and all activities (Barring some of the personal nature) were to be conducted in pairs. With the ships belly full and all tanks ballasted, the rig storm stowed, equipment on upper decks tied with additional ropes and crew braced, we began the hunt for this Atlantic Storm.

It all began at daybreak of 13 Sep 15 with two breathtaking rainbowsdiametrically opposite to each other. As predicted, the angels turned on their dark face at a short notice. A sharp decent in the pressure from 1107 to 970 mm of Hg, within a period of 4 hours, depicted the commencement of hostilities.

The next four days were to be the most trying days of this voyage. Options of alternate ports in case of an emergency were too far to be considered. The next three and a half days would bring wind speeds of 50 knots gusting to more than 70 knots, wave height in excess of 7 meters, frequent rain and thunder shower, minimal visibility at night and in rain and not to mention traffic, where 400 meter long ships were found struggling to make a decent headway. Fog and wind chill due to the Atlantic cold front only added to our troubles.

The ship had to be steered from wave to wave to reduce role and pitch and obviate broaching or pooping. This became close to impossible at nights as the lack of visibility ensured that we only saw a wave after it had hit and drenched us. Inspite of both the engines and storm sails trying their best to keep her going from wave to wave, we were being set backwards. Any alteration from this course would role the ship and the chances of a capsize seemed quite probable. The team thus stuck to the plan and kept the sea and wind on the bows. The plan was to weather the storm. Sustainability over a period of almost four days both in terms of crew and machinery fatigue had to be borne in mind. Sleeping arrangements had to be altered as the bunks couldn’t hold us in place. We thus resorted to sleeping on the deck in our messes, stacked against each other. The ones who couldn’t sleep were forced to go down and rest so that they could be alert during their watch. Crew fatigue and absent mindedness could lead to mistakes and injuries, thus rest and food was mandatory. One must acknowledge the efforts of the Galley staff who worked tirelessly to feed the few who were willing to eat.

By the end of second day, ship had travelled about 80 miles on a course of 150, while trying to steer 240 - 280. The watch keepers had started showing signs of fatigue and the Doctor was busy attending to bruises, cuts, lacerations and cases of extreme sea sickness. The watch organization was again tweaked to ensure optimum availability of personnel on deck and Engine Room, as the ship prepared for the worst day of the storm. Predictions indicated wind speeds in excess of 65 knots and a wave height of 7-8 meters. The night of 16/17 Sep was by far the roughest.
Today as I write about the days at Bay of Biscay, these famous words pasted in the Sea Trainees mess make lots of sense,” Rather than having an army of lions lead by sheep, I would like to have an army of sheep lead by lions”.  – Napoleon. Here we are required to lead a pride of lions called the Indian Navy. We better be knowledgeable, courageous and compassionate all at the same time, for these are the man capable of achieving the impossible.
It had been 3 days and the crew had steered her with precision correcting the course every time she turned her head, veering with the wind on her bows. Everyone on board was well aware that the struggle shall last only half a day if we escape the storm, but the consequences otherwise was deadly. Entire day the courage of the crew stayed warm even as the rain and wind chill made the most hardened shiver. The sea state was eight and anyone could imagine its lethality. Every now and then the roll of the ship dipped the gunwale, as the bowspirit plowed through wave after wave. The waves had been well above the ship for the last three days. It had been like a theme park ride on a rainy day. There had been no sunrise or sunsets. Slowly as the dusk faded, the sea began showing a ray of hope, as the wind speeds reduced. The crew had to wait for another day for the swell to reduce. There was no time for laurels as the damages had to be repaired and the ship prepared for her next stop at Lisbon, Portugal.

What more could one ask for towards a perfect initiation into a life at sea. In these four days,
We saw the beauty of two rainbows and the calm before a storm,
We saw the speed with which pressure drops and the winds pick up,
We saw camaraderie of the sea faring community from across the world,
We saw the strength of this Indian built ship
We saw the grit and courage of the men behind
We saw leadership,
We saw discipline and commitment,

It was a whole new world,…. This meeting with an Atlantic Storm

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Stay at Amsterdam

       The ship cast off from Bremerhaven on 16 Aug 15 and commenced its passage towards Amsterdam. On 17 Aug 15 ship received a gale warning from the sail organisers. All Tall ships were instructed to enter Ijmuiden Harbour on 18 Aug 15. Ijmuiden is a fishing Harbour 12NM short of Amsterdam. Ship was able to reach off Ijmuiden on 18 Aug 15. 
All Ships Being Lined Up For an Early Entry into Ijmuiden
View Inclement Weather

         Finally the ship entered Ijmuiden harbour on 18 Aug 15. The time alongside was used by the ship to prepare the ship side and the ship for the sail parade on the following day. Sea Trainees rehearsed manning the yards while alongside Ijmuiden.
Preparing for Sail Parade on the Next Morning

          The sea trainees made a safety net for the lost door and presented it to MCHSSI.
Sea Trainees Handy Work

On 19 Aug 15 the ship cast off from Ijmuiden and entered the locks along with other ships. The ship was inside the locks for a period of 30 minutes and cast off from the locks and joined her station astern of Statsraad Lehmkuhl for the sail parade

Leaving Locks after Statsraad Lehmkuhl

        Upon exiting the locks the ship participated in the sail parade. During the sail parade the ship was dressed over all and sea trainees were manning the yards. With thousands of boats and crafts participating in the event this was the biggest event the ship has participated in. The 12 mile sail parade was navigational challenge hardly any waters for the ship to manoeuvre. We still put up quite a show, with the yards and the ship’s sides manned, ship dressed overall, tall ship triclolour hoisted, martial music playing on the broadcast and the crew greeting the crowd with “Teen Jais”.

Sail Amsterdam Is a Navigational Nightmare with Thousands of Boats in the Canal

            During the sail parade the ship exchanged salute with the Netherland Naval Ship Zeeland as they passed each other.
Exchanging Salutes Netherland Naval Ship Zeeland during Sail Parade

        Thousands of small boats and crafts formed this 12 mile long convoy during the Sail Amsterdam. The city was packed with an estimated 4 million visitors from all over the world.
Sail Parade at Amsterdam

            On completion of sail parade the ship commenced its approach towards the jetty. Lots of small boats and ferry were present in the channel and approach to the jetty was full of traffic. Finally a port control vessel cleared the traffic and the ship was secured alongside port side to in Amsterdam. 

Final Approach to the Berth

                 An Indian Ship so far away from home was quite a tourist attraction for the locals. The jetty was full of eager enthusiasts within minutes of the ship’s coming alongside. Peoplefrom all over Europe and lot of Indians visited the ship on the first day itself.

The Indian Ship – An Instant Hit with the Locals

         During the stay at Amsterdam, his Excellency MR J S Mukul Ambassador of India visited the ship and had an interaction with the sea trainees. Sea trainees shared their memorable experience about the voyage and their expectation from Amsterdam during their stay.

Sea Trainees and Ships company with DA and Ambassador of India

       Sea trainees and the ship’s crew actively took part in various games like football, volleyball, chess, table tennis, darts and golf conducted by the organisers of Sail Amsterdam Ltcdr Tanmoy Mukherjee, the Executive Officer of the ship was awarded the first prize in the golf tournament.  SWA 3 Avinash participated in Chess competition and won third prize.

Crew Games - Volley Ball at Amsterdam

Crew Games - Chess at Amsterdam
EXO Awarded First Prize At The
Golf Tournament

          A Crew Parade of all the participating ships was held from Town Square at Amsterdam. The ship paraded two contingents. A marching contingent of Officers and sea trainees and a contingent of ship’s company dressed in traditional wear representing different states of India. The crew of the ship had created a two minute continuity drill for the marching contingent. This drill was practiced at sea on passage to Amsterdam and then finally fine tuned on the jetty at Amsterdam. The ship’s marching contingent which was lead by the “Nishaan Toli” in full ceremonials, with the Bugler playing and the Sea Trainees singing along was a big hit with the spectators. Even the crew from other ships stopped during the parade to watch the drill.

Crew Parade at Amsterdam

In Front Of The Dias  - CNS The Royal Dutch Navy
As The Chief Guests

          The ship’s port side bulwark door which was broken by the pilot boat due to bad weather during entering harbor, was fabricated by M/s Damen Shipyard Ltd and was installed onboard in a small ceremony attended by the Sail event organisers and the shipyard representatives.  The ceremony turned out to be a grand one attracting lot of attention from the crowd gathered.

Commissioning the Cutch Part of The Indian
Ship By the Senior Most Lo In Sail Amsterdam

          After a fabulous stay at Amsterdam the ship cast off on 23 Aug 15 and participated in the Sail Thank You Parade. Thousands of small boats bid adieu to all the Tall Ships took part in the Sail Amsterdam festival.

Receiving Salute before Leaving for Thank You Parade

Transit through Kiel Canal

            The ship cast off from Rostock on 09 Aug 15. The ship embarked three Midshipmen from the German Navy Slt Daniel Tim and Slt Joachim Mrnka for the passage from Rostock to Bremerhaven.

German Naval Officers Slt Daniel Tim and Slt Joachim Mrnka Calculating True Wind

         Upon weighing anchor at 0900 on 10 Aug 15 the ship started making way to enter Kiel Canal. Ship entered the west locks of the canal at 1000 and commenced its transit through the canal.
Entering Locks of Kiel Canal
          The width of the navigable waters of the canal is 100mrts and the length of the canal is 55NM. SSD was closed up at 1000 prior to entering the locks.

Entering Locks of Kiel Canal
            Upon entering the locks the ship secured alongside portside in the locks and waiting inside the locks for the commencement of the transit.
 Waiting In Locks before Entry Into Canal
            All the sail ships transiting from Rostok to Bremerhaven were lined up in a column and a speed of 8 knots was promulgated for the passage.
All Ships Being Lined Up For an Early Entry into Ijmuiden

View Inclement Weather
Passing Under Rail Bridge in Kiel Canal
             During the passage through Kiel Canal, the ship passed a popular local restaurant at Kiel Canal which dips the German Flag and played the National Anthem of the passing ship. The ship in turn dipped the Naval ensign.
A Popular Restaurant At Kiel Canal That Dips German Flag And Plays National Anthem Of The Passing Ship 
Sea Trainees with Pilot and German Naval Officers
Passage through Kiel Canal with Santa Maria Manuela and Mercedes Following The Way 
Entering Exit Locks
After 8 hours of passage through Kiel Canal the ship entered the exit locks for entering river Elbe.
At Exit Locks
Leaving Kiel Canal Behind and Entering Elbe River
After 11 Hrs Long SSD with Nao Voctoria In Background 
         The ship anchored Off Bremerhaven and undertook the maintenance and preparatory activities for entering Bremerhaven.
At Anchorage Off Bremerhaven

           On 11 Aug 15 country presentation on Germany and the port of Bremerhaven was given by the on white watch which was followed by a presentation given by the German Officers on STS GORCH FOCK.
Presentation by German Officers On STS Gorch Fock 
Manning the Yards during Sail Parade at Bremerhaven

            On 12 Aug 15 the ship proceeded to take up station in the column for Parade of Sails. The ship was in company of 86 other big and small sail ships and hundreds of small boats. The majestic appearance of the ship with the Tall Ship Flag set and the yards manned was appreciated by one and all.
Sail Parade at Bremerhaven
A Tight Squeeze - Entering Kaiser Lock At Bremerhaven
Entering Harbour Bremerhaven
         The President’s Barge with President Gauck was scheduled to steam past the berthed ships at 1630 hr. The ship quickly manned the sides with the crew dressed in dress No. 3 and accorded the President of Germany full ceremonials along with “Teen Jais”.
Manning the Ship Side as President’s Yacht Passes By
            The Commanding Officer and the DA attended a reception on the German Frigate and had the opportunity to interact with the President of Germany. During the Interaction the President welcomed the ship to Germany and indicated that the crew of Tarangini was the one of the few who were there in full strength to greet the President and the effort put in by the crew was appreciated.
With President Gauck, Vice Chief Of German Navy And DA
At the Beer Call in Operation School

          An Indian ship and that too a Sail Training Ship is a rare commodity in this of the world, the jetty was thus crowded even before the Brow was passed to the Jetty. The ship was dressed overall and kept open for a continuous stream of visitors for the rest of the day.
Ship Open for Visitors at Bremerhaven
Flag Parade at Bremerhaven
Crew Parade and Continuity Drill

Crew Games at Bremerhaven
Crew games - Volley ball with Young Endeavour

          On completion of the crew parade prize distribution ceremony was conducted in the main stage. The ship received Runners Up trophy for volley ball competition during the prize distribution ceremony.
Receiving The Volleyball Trophy From Chairman Of Sail Bremerhaven And
Lord Mayor
Team Tarangini with Volleyball Trophy 
Reception Onboard At Bremerhaven

             A grand reception was hosted onboard at 1600 hrs on 15 Aug 15 to mark the 69th Independence Day Celebrations. The ship remained dressed overall for the occasion. The reception was attended by Lord Mayor, Chairman of Sail Bremerhaven, President of the Bremen Parliament and Captain of various sail ships. The Commanding Officer addressed the gathering and expressed his gratitude to the German government. After this he gave a small brief on the rich cultural heritage of both Germany and India and off our links in this history, our fight for Independence and then invited everyone to join the celebrations. A cake displaying the Ship’s silhouette and 69th Independence Day was presented by the Sail Event organizers. The Captain alongwith the Lord Mayor of Bremerhaven, the chairman Sail Bremerhaven and the President of the Parliament of Bremen, cut the cake.  The highlight of the evening was an impressive performance by the Ship’s bugler who played patriotic songs as the Sea Trainees joined in as Chorus. The guests were served Indian delicacies prepared by the ship’s cooks. With captains of various tall ships attending the reception the evening turned out to be a great occasion to reach out to International maritime community.
Independence Day Cake Cutting With Lord Mayor, Chairman Of Sail Bremerhaven And Parliament Member

      Captain’s divisions was held in Dress No.3s onboard as part of Independence day. During the divisions CNS and C-in-C commendations were awarded to the winners. In his address the Commanding Officer congratulated the winners and also the ship’s company for the continuous hard work and dedicated efforts put in at all levels for ensuring the operational efficiency at sea for such a prolonged duration. 
Awarded C-In-C Commendation To LCK(O) GS Sikarwar at Bremerhaven
After Divisions at Bremerhaven
Exiting Tidal Locks – Leaving Harbour Bremerhaven