The more I stare at her, the deeper I fall in love with her. What a ship! Elegant, majestic, slender and graceful, she looks regal as she magnificently glides on the deep blue seas. INS Rajput, the pride of the Indian Navy, bid goodbye on 21 May after a glorious stint of 41 years.
It evoked an overwhelming flood of emotions, pride and sadness, as I watched the decommissioning ceremony online. I was first introduced to her in November 1986, as the wife of a naval officer who was serving on the ship. There she was! Majestic, gently swaying at the jetty in Vishakhapatnam.
I delightfully recall my excitement as I set foot on the gangway to be welcomed by the officer on duty with a proud salute, ‘Jai Hind’, to be followed by rich Naval traditions. The following two years I saw very little of my husband; Rajput had taken over his life. But never did I feel even a hint of anger or envy.
INS Rajput D51, the number I eagerly looked for amongst an array of ships at the jetties, had engulfed my life too. For 41 years she served the nation with unparalleled dedication. With the motto “Raj Karegi Rajput”, she braved the rough seas with toughness and remained ever vigilant to protect maritime interests and sovereignty of the nation.
Since being commissioned, Rajput has sailed over 7,87,194 nautical miles which is equivalent to navigating the world 36.5 times and 3.8 times the distance from Earth to Moon. Rajput’s tenure is replete with a grand record of achievements. In 1986, she participated in Operation Brasstacks, when the nation was at the brink of a war with our Western neighbor.
In 2019, Rajput was the first ship to engage in underwater SPURT (Self Propelled Underwater Reusable Target) target torpedo firing. She was also the first ship to fire the supersonic Brahmos cruise missile.