India’s marine acoustic research ship (MARS), INS Sagardhwani (A74) was flagged off for a scientific venture called ‘Marine & Allied Interdisciplinary Training and Research Initiative (MAITRI)’ during a ceremony at naval base INS Venduruthy in Kochi on July 18.
INS Sagardhwani (A74) is a marine acoustic research ship owned by the Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL) and is maintained and operated by the Indian Navy, and based at Southern Naval Command (SNC), Kochi. NPOL is a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), under India’s Ministry of Defence, also located in Kochi.
The ship was jointly flagged off by Vice Admiral A.K. Chawla, AVSM, NM, VSM, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) of SNC and Dr. G Satheesh Reddy, Secretary Department of Defence R&D and Chairman of DRDO.
According to an Indian MoD statement:
“The ship’s mission, which was conceptualized by DRDO, is in consonance with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘Safety And Growth of All in the Region (SAGAR)’ to promote closer cooperation in socio-economic aspects, as well as greater scientific interaction, especially in ocean research in underwater acoustics, among Indian Ocean Region (IOR) countries. The mission by the Indian Navy and NPOL is a step towards enhancing this research and strengthening relationships with South East Asian countries and is therefore being termed as SAGAR MAITRI”.
The prime objectives of the SAGAR MAITRI mission are data collection from the entire North Indian Ocean, focusing on the Andaman Sea and adjoining seas and establishing long term collaboration with eight IOR countries in the field of ‘Ocean Research and Development’.
The ship would be visiting Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia and would be interacting and initiating collaborative research programmes with selected institutes in these countries as part of the present SAGAR MAITRI Track-2. Track–1 of SAGAR MAITRI mission was held in April, when she visited Yangon, Myanmar.
INS Sagardhwani was built indigenously by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Ltd. (GRSE), Kolkata and was commissioned on July 30, 1994. During the last 25 years, the ship has carried out intensive oceanographic observational programmes and research.