Making History: Kumudini Tyagi & Riti Singh are the First Women Officers on an Indian Navy Warship


Making History: Kumudini Tyagi & Riti Singh are the First Women Officers on an Indian Navy Warship

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Indian women continue to conquer new frontiers. In a move that will increase opportunities for female officers in the Indian Navy, Sub Lt Kumudini Tyagi and Sub Lt Riti Singh have become the first women officers deployed on a frontline Indian Navy warship as crew members.

Although women officers have been posted as a part of the logistics and medical teams on Navy fleet tankers, they have not served aboard warships for long durations. Amongst the many reasons cited, lack of privacy in crew quarters and gender-specific bathroom facilities top the list.

However, with this decision, the Indian Navy is now shifting the operational duties of women officers hereon. The two naval officers will operate as “Observers”, airborne tacticians in the helicopter stream. The young officers will train to operate a host of sensors onboard navy multi-role helicopters. Their training as airborne combatants will see them working with sonar consoles and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) payloads.

As Observers, the officers will work to assess the enemy threat in the event of combat. They will determine the target under such circumstances and aid the pilots of the choppers with the same.

It is also being expected that the two officers will fly on the navy’s advanced multi-role helicopters – MH-60R, which is designed to detect enemy ships and submarines and can be engaged using missiles and torpedoes during combat.

A fourth-generation armed forces officer, Sub Lt Singh points out that within the Indian Navy barriers are being broken on the daily. As opportunities arise, she states that “Whatever roles the Indian Navy gives us, we will gladly take them.” Talking about the huge responsibility they have been tasked with, both the officers having completed their 60 hours of training. Sub Lt Tyagi adds, “”We’ve been treated equally… Whatever training our male counterparts received, we went through the same training… We are looking forward to it.”

Singh’s and Tyagi’s milestone achievement is yet another feather in the cap for women in uniform.