If you get a chance to visit the Southern Naval Command (SNC) situated in the picturesque Venduruthy island of Kochi, grab it with both hands.
While the entry to this top-notch Training Command of Indian Navy is restricted and needs necessary clearances, it is definitely worth a try, especially if you are dreaming of joining the sailing clan.
"The SNC is in a sense an alma mater to all people in the white uniform. No one actually becomes a true bred naval person, unless finishing a stint of training here," says Cdr Sridhar Warrier, PRO (Defence), Kochi.
Cdr Warrier has helped OneIndia to put together this report, capturing key facts of SNC.
The Southern Naval Command is the Training Command of Indian Navy with its headquarters at Kochi. The Command is responsible for the training of all its personnel, both officers as well as sailors, from basic to advance stages.
In short, all the personnel in white manning the different ships, submarines and aircraft would have been trained at SNC at some point or the other.
SNC has its subsidiary units across the country from Jamnagar in Gujarat to Lonavala in Maharashtra, Goa and in Orissa. But the majority of training units are in Kochi.
This name has become synonymous with the SNC for Kochiites; but Vendiuruthy is in fact the base depot providing the administrative backup for all the naval activities and units inside the naval base. The naval base was commissioned, even before Independence, in 1943, as HMIS Venduruthy.
The Indian Naval Workup Team is a little known but very important organisation under the SNC. This organisation carries out the professional audit of the training standards onboard ships and ensures that all the ships of the Navy have their cutting edge intact in terms of professional competence and synergy between all the departments.
The organisation is headed by Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST).
The oldest naval air station, INS Garuda, is located inside the naval base and has fixed wing aeroplanes as well as helicopters, big and small flying from there.
It has a very historic past with a many firsts to its credit besides being the oldest air station. The first naval aircraft to land and take off from sea, the Sealand was from INS Garuda.
The airfield of INS Garuda was the old Cochin Airport (as known to the old timers of Ernakulam), before the construction of the current Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) situated in Nedumbasssery.
INS Dronacharya is the gunnery school of the Indian Navy. It is located at Fort Kochi and is responsible for training officers and sailors of the Indian Navy in small-arms, naval missiles, radar and defensive countermeasures.
Dronacharya also served as the naval coastal battery for coastal defence during the olden days when guns were placed along coastline to defend harbours from attack.
The War Memorial
The first major monument that greets you on the main road inside the naval base, is the War Memorial.
It is a classical structure which is a tribute to all the brave sons of the soil who made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty.
The memorial is unique as there is no other war memorial at Kochi. Wreath-laying ceremony is carried out here during the Independence Day, Republic Day and Navy Day celebrations by the Commander in Chief of the SNC and by all military and civilian dignitaries of the city.
This memorial is unique to the SNC. While war memorials are a common sight inside most military cantonments, this is a memorial for the silent warriors of the Navy -- the divers.
They are perhaps the only breed in the Navy which works in isolation unlike the traditional naval ships and submarines, where all departments are in combat together.
The Naval Ship Repair Yard is the place where maintenance and repairs to all naval ships and boats are undertaken.
This place boasts of a highly-skilled workforce, most of which surprisingly is civilian.
The Naval Institute of Aeronautical Technology is the largest aeronautical training establishment of the country.
The institute trains officers and men in maintenance and upkeep of 11 different types of naval aircraft. It is presently in its Diamond Jubilee Year.
The Navigation and Direction School is the institution which trains the sea farers the art and science of finding way at sea with or without modern gadgetry.
This place is the holy grail for all the men in white because no war can be fought without the basic skill of navigating the ship considering all the elements of the sea.
The Anti-submarine Warfare School is the place where typical naval war-fighting instincts and tactical awareness is gathered.
The naval wars are all about finding submarines hiding somewhere to attack and this institution delivers the punch in that department by training personnel in underwater weapons such as mines, rockets and torpedoes.
The Signal School, as the name suggests, imparts training in communication equipment and procedures at sea.
Its importance has only increased over the years, particularly in the era of information security where there is always a danger of secrets being stolen through different methods of eves-dropping.
This School is quite different from others. All other institutions in the Navy are typically sophisticated and technology driven, but this school trains raw talent at physical level.
The diving training imparted here pushes the envelope of the trainees' physical endurance, and prepares them for any kind of daredevilry underwater missions that may be required in war and warlike situations.
The hospital inside the naval base would be the most familiar place for the citizens of Kochi, as the anchor and the medical insignia placed alongside each other on top of the hospital structure is discernible from distance.
The well staffed hospital with the array of specialist not only provides the medical care to the naval personnel and families but also indulges in a multitude of community outreach programmes through blood donation camps and medical camps for the general public.
(Photos by: Dr Anantha Krishnan M)