INS Imphal to have separate accommodation facilities for women sailors | Latest News India

    INS Imphal to have separate accommodation facilities for women sailors | Latest News India

    On board the INS Imphal: The Indian Navy is set to assign women sailors to its newest guided-missile destroyer, INS Imphal, in February-March 2024 as the country’s first warship with separate accommodation for women officers and sailors prepares for its operational deployment on the high seas, boosting the navy’s ability to secure India’s economic and military interests, officials aware of the matter said.

    Sub Lt Anjali Mohapatra in the women sailors’ mess. HT Photo
    Sub Lt Anjali Mohapatra in the women sailors’ mess. HT Photo

    INS Imphal, which was commissioned into the navy on December 26, has separate messes (accommodation) for males and females for privacy, and the indigenous warship can carry a crew of 360, including 20 women, the officials said. It has berthing facilities for eight women officers and 12 Agniveers with attached washrooms.

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    Sub Lieutenant Anjali Mohapatra, the destroyer’s deputy logistics officer, is currently the only woman serving on board. The 24-year-old officer is the first woman to be part of a warship’s commissioning crew in the navy’s history.

    “We have designated messes for women officers and sailors. The warship’s layout is such that extra accommodation can be created for them as their numbers will only increase in service. We can convert nearby messes into berthing areas for women if need be,” said the warship’s commanding officer Captain Kamal Kumar Choudhury.

    An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, he led the commissioning crew that put the 7,500-tonne destroyer through its paces for almost a year before defence minister Rajnath Singh commissioned it into service at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai on December 26.

    Accommodation is no longer a barrier, said Mohapatra.

    The navy’s first women Agniveers, recruited under the Agnipath scheme, are currently undergoing training that requires them to perform sentry duties at different naval installations and some of them are expected to soon join INS Imphal after the completion of their training, said Choudhury.

    The messes for women officers and sailors are in the forward and aft (rear) part of INS Imphal that also house separate berthing facilities for men.

    The women sailors’ mess has 12 bunks with entry to the washroom. There is also a provision for accessing the toilet from outside to cater to higher intake of women in the future. If more women sailors are accommodated in the nearby messes, they can use the same toilet.

    The women officers’ mess has six bunks with an attached toilet, with an option for entry from outside for the same reason. The most senior women officers will have a separate cabin with two bunks.

    “The accommodation is quite good,” said Mohapatra, who was commissioned into service in 2021.

    “Designated berthing space for women officers and sailors addresses the changes taking place in the navy. The provision for creating extra accommodation will boost the deployment of women on warships,” she added.

    The navy was the first among the three services to induct women in the personnel below officer rank (PBOR) cadre across all streams. It currently accounts for more than 1,000 women Agniveers. The navy is working on making the workplace equal for its women cadre. There is no restriction on women joining the submarine arm for which they need to volunteer, clear an aptitude test and then undergo rigorous training before being deployed.

    In a watershed in India’s naval history, a woman officer is set to assume the command of a warship early next year. Lieutenant Commander Prerna Deosthalee will take charge as the commanding officer of fast attack craft INS Trinkat.

    Around 40 women officers are currently serving on board warships. In 2021, the navy assigned four women officers to warships after a hiatus of almost 25 years. In a short-lived experiment, women from the navy’s logistics and medical branches were deployed on fleet tanker INS Jyoti in 1997.

    To be sure, women officers currently serving on board several warships have separate berthing facilities for them. But not so for women sailors.

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