Indian Merchant Navy Training establishments under British Raj (TS Dufferin)

India had never been a true Maritime Nation before, although the Cholas excelled in foreign trade and maritime activity, extending their influence overseas to China and Southeast Asia.The Maritime Training was never a part of Indian studies ever before, and to talk about vedic civilisation and their Maritime past would be futile at this point of time.

The Change was yet to come and soon it came with the first Training Ship , TS Dufferin.This Ship was named after the Marquess of Dulferin and Ava, Viceroy and Governor General of India 1884-1988.She was built to replace the R.I.M.S. “Clive” (R.I.M.S here refers to Royal India Marine Ship),and it was built at a cost of £ 193,625.One Executive Officer (Commander Pitford, R.l.M.) and two-Engineer Officers (Chief Engineer Torry and Engineer Robertson) took a passage to India in the R.I.MS Dufferin.

TS Dufferin
TS Dufferin
The Marquess of  Duffrin and Ava, Viceroy and Governer General of India.
The Marquess of Duffrin and Ava, Viceroy and Governer General of India.

R.I.M.S Dufferin was taken over in Bombay by the British Government of India on 2lst February 1905.The Ship still was was a Royal Indian Marine ship and commanded by British Officers.On 5th December 1927 First batch of Three year Nautical Science course started with 26 cadets. These cadets later aquired great positions in the Maritime Faternity and Forces.

TS Dufferin
TS Dufferin

Changes took place even in the uniforms worn by Officers and Cadets,the black stockings worn by Cadets in No. 13’s uniform were replaced by white ones in april of 1948, India was Independent,but still not republic.
Soon the post of Chief Engineer Officer was abolished with effect from the lst October from which date Mr. J. S. H. Stevenson became the Director of Marine Engineering Training on the ship.

First Prime Minister of India Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru  Inspecting the T.S Dufferin Cadets.
First Prime Minister of India Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru Inspecting the T.S Dufferin Cadets.
Mrs. Vijaylakshami Pandit, Inspecting the TS Dufferin Cadets.
Mrs. Vijaylakshami Pandit, Inspecting the TS Dufferin Cadets.

With time as the country moved to discover its new found freedom,it was realised that the Mercantile Marine Training ship preamble which was quite lenghthy was proving itself unnecessary,Change in designation of “Dufferin” brought a new change in the training of Merchant Navy Officers, the Government of India announced that R.I.M.S Dufferin should now be designated as Training Ship ” T.S Dufferin” with effect from l4th March 1949.
T.S Dufferin trained great Officers both in Merchant Navy as well as for the Royal Navy and Indian Navy.In 1950 Jalagopal, a passenger and cargo vessel with a full complement of Indian Officers and crew crossed the oceans and this was the time when real glory of T.S Dufferin was acknowledged and Indians came onboard Merchant Vessels as Officers.The first Indian Chief of Naval Staff appointed in 1958 was an ex-cadet of the 1st batch of T.S Dufferin, many of the great Indian Naval Officers were ex Cadets of T.S Dufferin.Cadet Ramdas Katari,who later became first commander-in-chief (Admiral) was cadet from Dufferin, Dufferin also gets the credit of training the great Merchant Navy Officers of all time,those were the golden days of the TS Dufferin.

President's Gold Medal.
President’s Gold Medal.
cadet's inspection, TS Dufferin.
cadet’s inspection, TS Dufferin.


T.S duffering will always be considered as the greatest pioneer in Indian Merchant Navy/Mercantile Marine as stated in our preamble,Indians emerged and proved themselves as great Officers on Merchant Vessels and doors to the Globe opened, I don’t see much of Indian swadeshi history in TS Dufferin but by the eye of an analyst I can say it was the real starting point of Indian Maritime Training and inspires the Cadets even today.

Do read my new article on TS RAJENDRA TS Rajendra ( Indigenous Merchant Navy Training Ship)

(c)copyright 2013 marine_observer



  1. Ex Senior Cadet Captain from the T.S. Dufferin/Rajendra. Its a great shame that the Indian Government, Ministry of Shipping and Transportation, did not try and preserve the Dufferin by making it a Maritime museum. Instead the ship was sent off to the scrap yard in Bombay, India in 1975 to die an undignified death. Today all that lives is a fading memory of our beautiful Training Ship Dufferin that opened the doors for so many in making the sea our career and equipped us to navigate and venture out into the world with confidence and pride. Pride in our values and professionalism.

    • Sir,
      Thank you for your views.Honour to have you here, I strongly agree with your viewpoint. Govt. Has definitely not done enough. May the mariners carry pride in their heart, I fear our dignity is at stake.

  2. A minor correction – RIMS stands for Royal Indian MAIL (not MARINE) ship signifying that the ship was on contract to carry Sea Mail. Those days it was an honour to carry mail. Cunard ships added the prefix RMS with pride. Thanks for this interesting article, bringing back old memories. I am an ex Dufferin cadet (58-60), Last Capt Super of TS Rajendra and the first Capt Super of TS Chanakya.

    • Respected sir,
      You never need an introduction, Its an honour to have appreciation of a distinguished and honorable person as you. I will definitely correct it. I am a cadet of Samundra Institute of Maritime studies, Lonavla. I had the honour to have you as my faculty of Meteorology in 2012. Presently I have completed my seatime and will be appearing for my second mate function. Your guidance is all I need.

      Thank you,
      Cdt. Abhishek Tiwari

  3. TE Lawrence (of Arabia) refers to this ship extensively in his book ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdon’, when it was employed by the British as an auxiliary ship in the Red Sea during the First World War.

  4. Proud to be an ex-cadet from Dufferin.
    B S Makhija
    Extra First Class Engineer (DoT – UK)
    Founder Chairman International Maritime Institute . New Delhi.
    (Campus Greater Noida)

      • Hi the function in Reading UK Calcot Hotel on Saturday 9 September in celebration of 90 years The first Indian officer went aboard for training in Nautical science and ship handling.
        Pleas do contact me if you like to attend
        Helen Manghnani secretary of DROCRA reunions

      • Hi Helen,

        Looking for R.I.M.S. Dufferin Passenger Ship List leaving England for India in 1913. Looking for a name on the list and need your help please. Thanks.

      • Only names I have for the passage to India is Commander Pitford RIM and two engineers chief eng Tory, and engineer Robertson. You could try,, I tried them but needed a name to start with for the search. You need to look under passenger list. Hope this is helpful

      • sorry I couldn’t be more helpful, hope you get the names. I have a long list of ex Dufferin officers dating back to early 1934. Sadly many are no longer with us. However I still continue to hold a every year function for those who served on her and for those officers who still serve The Indian Merchant Navy.

  5. Hi,
    A great article Abhishek. May I request permission to publish the above in this year’s DRACEA Alumni magazine.

  6. There is a big celebration on Saturday 9 September in Reading. For the 90 Ann of the Dufferin.
    I can be contacted by my e mail

    • Dear Helen. We have been going through the papers of my wife’s late grandfather Captain HWLT (Hal) Davies who we believe was second officer on the Dufferin in late 1927. These include several photographs which we will be happy to scan and email to you. Hal spent most of his working life associated with the Indian Merchant Marine and the Bombay Port Authority until his retirement in the late 1950’s.

    • Would you be having a List of Names for the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. The regiment sailed to India on the R.I.M.S. Dufferin Ship, leaving England for India in 1913. Looking for a name on the Passengers List. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s