Navy & culture min join hands to stitch back Indian maritime marvel

PANAJI: India’s rich shipbuilding tradition, dating back several millennia, is set to come alive with the revival of an ancient

maritime marvel

– the stitched ship – in Goa. In a momentous initiative by the

Indian Navy

, the Union ministry of culture and Divar-based

Hodi Innovations

are collaborating to reconstruct an ancient stitched ship, reminiscent of the vessels that once sailed the seas on India’s ancient maritime trade routes.
Once built, the vessel will be used by the Navy for expeditions along the traditional maritime trade routes. Though the Navy has not released the routes the ship will sail on, it has given an inkling by referring to the “cultural memories among the Indian Ocean littoral countries”.
The keel for the vessel will be laid on Tuesday in the presence of the chief of naval staff,

Admiral R Hari Kumar

, and the minister of state for culture and external affairs, Meenakshi Lekhi. Economic advisor to the Prime Minister, Sanjeev Sanyal, will also be present.
“The Navy is overseeing the ship’s design and construction and will be sailing it along ancient maritime trade routes. The ministry of culture has fully funded this project, while the ministry of shipping and ministry of external affairs will be supporting the project to ensure seamless execution of the international voyage,” the Navy’s statement read.

A team of traditional shipbuilders led by Babu Sankaran, an expert in stitched ship construction, will build the vessel in Goa. The ancient technique, which dates back to 2,000 years, involves wooden planks being crafted using the traditional steaming method to conform to the shape of the hull. The planks are then stitched using cords or ropes and sealed with a combination of coconut fibre, resin, and fish oil – akin to the ancient Indian shipbuilding practice.

Hodi Innovations is part of Aquarius Shipyard Pvt Ltd, the same shipyard that built the Navy’s formidable sailing yachts, INSV Tarini and

INSV Mhadei

. Stitched ships constructed by stitching wooden planks together rather than using nails are less susceptible to damage from shoals and sandbars. This ancient art has survived in a few coastal regions of India, but primarily for small local fishing boats.
The project will help preserve traditional craftsmanship and help revive India’s shipbuilding legacy.

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