New 177ft barque launched by India, to sail South East Asia

Aboard INS Sudarshini with her officers
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The Indians are doing it in style - there's a new very glamorous tall ship just launched by the Indian Navy, and she's scheduled to carry out a 'Friendship Mission' by sailing through South East Asia later this year.

INS Sudarshini in morning sun
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Eight years after Indian Navy's only tall ship INS Tarangini circumnavigated the globe to 'build bridges of friendship across oceans', a brand new barque - INS Sudarshini, a 177-feet long barque with 20 sails - is all set to embark on a similar voyage, but it won't be until September.

The destination this time is the familiar neighbourhood of South-East Asia, which has been, of late, at the centre of India's foreign and military policy.

Built at Goa Shipyard Limited, INS Sudarshini was commissioned on Friday at southern naval command in Kochi. It is only the second sail ship in the navy, the first being Tarangini, which was used to train naval officers in handling ship, navigation and seamanship.

Designed by British architect Colin Mudie, Sudarshini 7.5 km of rope to go with its 20 sails revives the old world charm of sail ships.

It will go on its first major assignment on September 15 when it will sail out of Kochin on a voyage to south east Asia covering eight countries and 18 foreign ports.

The significance of the voyage lies in the fact that it would mark two decades of India's 'Look East' policy. The region has been at the centre of an economic turnaround, in which emerging economies are playing a key role in the global affairs.

India's relations with the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have only grown in the recent years. In purely military terms also, it has found major allies in Vietnam, Myanmar and Singapore.

INS Sudarshini launch
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INS Sudarshini's voyage is being seen as a goodwill exercise reviving India's ancient links with the countries in southeast Asia. It would explore the traditional routes taken by the Indian sailors and traders to expand links with various countries.

The sail ship, which can sustain for 20 days at one time, operates with a complement of five officers, 31 sailors with 30 cadets. The 218-day-long expedition will start on September 15, 2012 and is scheduled to conclude on April 21, 2013.

After starting from Kochi, its first destination would be Banda Aceh from where it would reach Padang, Cilacap, Bali, Ambon, Manado, Brunei, Cebu and Manila. From the Philippine capital, she will cross the South China Sea to touch Danang, Sihanoukville and Nhatrang in Vietnam.

After going around the Malaysian peninsula, INS Sudarshini will visit Thailand, Myanmar and Bangladesh before returning to Puri and Chennai.
INS Sudarshini planned route
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