New Delhi: Commemorating 20 years of India's engagement with Asean countries, Defence Minister AK Antony will on Saturday flag-off a six month-long voyage by Indian Navy's sail training ship INS Sudarshini to member countries.
Part of a unique collaborative venture by defence and external affairs ministries, the ship with a crew of 31 sailors and officers will set sail from the Kochi Naval base, defence ministry officials said in New Delhi today.
"During the course of expedition, INS Sudarshini will visit 13 ports in nine countries in South East Asian region. The voyage commemorates 20 years of dialogue partnership and 10 years of summit level partnership with countries in the Asean region," they added.
The three-mast sail ship is being commanded by Commander N Shyamsunder. Thirty trainee cadets will also be on-board the ship to hone up their skills.
The ship's itinerary includes ports of Padang, Bali and Manado in Indonesia, after which it will visit the Port Muara in Brunei. In The Philippines it will anchor at Ports Cebu and Manila.
INS Sudarshini will also make a port call at Da Nang in Vietnam, Sihanoukville in Cambodia and Bangkok- the capital city of Thailand. It will also visit Singapore, Malaysia, Phuket-in Thailand and Sittwe in Myanmar.
Various cultural events are also scheduled at these ports in addition to people-to-people interactions.
To strengthen the navy's ties with Asean countries, the programme also includes interactions with international trainees who are expected to be embarked on-board in different legs of the voyage.
The ship will return to Kochi on 29 March 2013. INS Sudarshini is a three-masted sail ship and is part of the First Training squadron of the Southern Naval Command.