With ageing T S Dufferin, Indian Merchant Navy was looking for a new successor of this great Training ship that had trained nothing less than the best.
Training of Marine Engineers was transferred to D.M.E.T (Directorate of Marine Engineering Training), back in 1949 , a premier institute located in Kolkata with a branch in Mumbai, and TS Dufferin had become Training vessel for exclusive training of Deck Cadets, Cadets from not only India but other partner countries too were trained in TS Dufferin.
By 1969 TS Dufferin had become too old and Hindustan shipyard, Vishakhapatnam was given the responsibility to create state of art training vessel by the Ministry of commerce,for Indian Mercantile Marine. Finally after long negotiations within the government machinery, on 20th October 1969 the keel was laid.
The ancient history of Indian Maritime golden days was once again revived by the naming the new Merchant Navy Training ship as TS Rajendra, named after the pioneer of Indian Maritime chola king Rajendra Chola. This vessel was being built to cater the need of Traing as large no. of cadets as 250 at a time.
The brand new training ship was ready and T.S. Rajendra, was received from the builders by Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, on 2nd April, 1972, justifying the importance of this special asset in India’s Maritime history.
In April 1972 TS Dufferin was decommissioned, and there were several recommendations made by maritime fraternity to covert this great lady into a Maritime Museum, sadly all went unheard and she was scrapped in following years.
Finally the day had arrived when the new Training Ship Rajendra was set to be commissioned, on 16th April 1972 TS Rajendra was inaugurated by then Vice-President of India, Shri G S Pathak, a new era in Indian Marine had begun.
TS Rajendra was initially training 125 Deck Cadets under 2 year Course, but due sharp rise in Indian Ships and unavailability of trained Officers the course was converted to 1 year course and intake of cadets increased to 250 cadets per year,this in my view was the first instance when quality of training was compromised for the economic reasons. However in 1984, due to a hard hit recession in shipping the course was restored to 2 year period and intake of cadets reduced back to 125 per year.Soon need of Educational qualification along with the existing professional qualification was felt and in 1987 TS Rajendra was affiliated to University of Bombay for a 3 year BSc in Nautical Science program.Cadets from this legacy Institute were now recognised with their Educational qualification just like National Defence Academy (NDA) which is affiliated to JNU.
After successfully training a large no. Deck Cadets of Indian Merchant Navy ,According to a report by National shipping board dated 17th July 2014, TS Rajendra had become burden on the shoulders of the government,the government was not ready now to pay for a exclusive Maritime training Ship and TS Rajendra needed to be decommissioned in a service of merely 21 years, this was the birth of new age shore based TS Chanakya on 5th April 1992.
TS Rajendra’s contribution to the Indian Merchant Marine can never be denied, she has trained the Merchant Navy officers who are today working in all spheres of Maritime sectors as Pioneers and leading the way for young Cadets.
Do read my article on TS DUFFERIN Indian Merchant Navy Training establishments under British Raj (TS Dufferin)
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Compiled and written by:
3/OFF Abhishek Tiwari