28 Mar Thrivikramji earns shipboard break
Thrivikramji earns shipboard exposure.
It was like the last quarter of 1980, I believe, that I was introduced to Comdr. Duke, who was then stationed at the Naval Base, Kochi. I did not know how Director C. Karunakaran of CESS got acquainted with Cdr. Duke, but one thing was sure they were very good friends. Whenever, Duke had free time he used to come down to Trivandrum to see the pursuits of the MSD group. hen I joined, Cdr Duke came down and held fairly long discussions with me as to the programs I was planning for the MSD, CESS.
One of the visits, Duke asked me if I ever went to the sea. My answer was yes, which made him quite curious. I narrated my experience, and I did not think my narrative impressed that man. (Details, elsewhere). In fact, CK sort of chided me for not having gone for a cruise in a ship out to the open sea in spite of being the Head MSD. Duke also suggested if I were ready he will work out a plan that will give each one in the MSD a cruise break in the ocean.
In fact, I suggested that I will show the lead and go for the cruise as soon as Duke could arrange one. CK was impressed and so was Duke. Within a week of that meeting, on a Wednesday I took the morning Venad express to Kochi. Baba’s driver picked me up from the Ernakulam south station and dropped me at the Kochin Naval base where I was received by some cadet officer. In fact, I met the station commander briefly and that man ordered a tour for me in the INS Venduruthy. In the late afternoon I boarded a naval frigate berthed in the naval jetty. It was sort of one escort taking me over to another official or station where someone else will take over.
The commander (I cannot recall the man’s name) welcomed me on board. After a brief chat about what I do and what the research plans of the MSD are, he walked me through the ship right from the engine room to the bridge explaining everything to me. By sunset we sailed off, through the Kochi channel out to the sea and then on a line toward east of south, and roughly parallel to the sea coast.
The bridge the controls in there and A to Z of what happens in the bridge etc were explained to be briefly but not losing the content. A mistake on my part was that I did not do any noting of the points. The commander sits in a very tall chair at the rear end of the bridge room, while the men take charge of each instrument. There is a voice pipe connecting the bridge and the engine room, and all the verbal commands were shouted out through the voice pipe. The same pipe functions as the mouth piece and ear piece. The voice pipe is made of brass and the visible part of duct is kept with neat polish and shining brassy yellow.
A navigator is in charge of a navigational chart spread out between the commander’s chair and the crew manning the bridge. The navigator will read out the azimuth of the course, which is repeated through the voice pipe to the engine room from where another set of crew will steer the vessel. N fact there is a rudder in the bridge too. It was quite a new experience for me.
In fact the commander told me in private that he has a sort of prohibition during a cruise. But liquor is allowed once the vessel is berthed. I think the vessel was like INS Krisna or so, which was later decommissioned and these days it is sort of a museum.
I had a dinner with commander anyway in the late evening. Then one of the men camein and escorted me to the sick bay in the ship on the star board side. I could see the nightlights on land. Or else everything was dark. In the bunker I had a glass window through which I could see the outside. It was announced that we will call on shore in the early hours of the following day.
I could here the wave splashing on the iron sheets of the ships body. As night became really late the noise was louder. But that did not bother me and indeed I had a good night sleep, but for the intimation that we were somewhere south of the latitude of Kollam and turning around on there to begin the return leg of the journey.
When the day broke, the vessel was waiting in the sea off the mouth of ship channel to Kochin port. The sailing from the sea to the berth at naval jetty was indeed slow and took almost forty minutes. Once we berthed, the Commander invited me for a brunch, beer and liquor. I profusely thanked the team for the wonderful experience I earned in the trip on my behalf and on behalf of CESS.
Around twelve noon, Baba send the office car for me to go to town to the Rgional Center of CESS. I had a discussion about the shipboard experience without any sea sickness. Premchand in fact told me, if I had downed couple of large drinks, the sea sickness will not brush with me.
By mid evening I travelled to Ernakulam south to catch Venad express to Trivandrum, reaching around 9:30 pm at Trivandrum central. It was wonderful for me and CK never had asked me or nudged me on this account.