FROM BEING build at a site in Lonavala which was accidentally discovered by the British during an investigation of an aircraft accident to becoming the premier marine engineering training institute of the Indian Navy, the INS Shivaji has come a long way in its journey that entered its 75th year on February 15.
The institution had humble beginnings in 1931 as a training school at the Bombay Naval Dockyard for stokers, the personnel who tend to steam engines. A few years down the line, in order to facilitate further expansion and ensure learning in a conducive environment, the Royal Indian Navy contemplated moving the school to a quieter place.
Coincidentally, in the early 40’s, a group of British officers who were conducting an investigation into an aircraft accident in the Sahyadri ranges came across a flat piece of land in Lonavala area with a vertical rock face called the Tiger’s Leap on one side and another imposing rock formation, the Duke’s Nose, on the other.
The unit was then moved to its new location in Lonavala. Most of the heavy machinery was transported from Mumbai to the location via bullock carts through the ghat section. As a tribute to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his vision of building a Navy at the time, the institution was commissioned as HMIS Shivaji on February 15, 1945, by the then Governor of Mumbai, Sir John Colville.
Naval ships and the Navy’s commissioned establishments were at the time prefixed HMIS: His Majesty’s Indian Ship. After Independence, in January 1948, Captain D N Mukherjee took over as the first Indian Commanding Officer of the establishment, which later became INS Shivaji on January 26 in 1950.
During its initial days, the institute was a mechanical training establishment for naval artificers. Subsequently, the Naval College of Engineering was inaugurated by the then Defence Minister, V K Krishna Menon, in January 1962 to train engineer officers of the Navy. A series of training wings were added over the years.
Today, the INS Shivaji is spread over 861 acres on the Lonavala tableland and houses a population of 6,000, comprising 2,500 personnel in uniform, including trainees and families.
The establishment has 500 buildings and fulfils its water requirements from two rain-fed man-made lakes.
When the proposed 2MW (megawatt) solar power plant will get completed, the establishments will become self-sufficient for its energy needs, the officials said.
The institution is currently headed by Commodore K Srinivas, who has extensively served on aircraft carrier INS Viraat, and also oversaw the commissioning of INS Vikramaditya as Principal Director Aircraft Carrier Project.
Training at INS Shivaji
The INS Shivaji has three premier training entities, namely Centre of Marine Engineering and Technology (CMET), Centre of Excellence in Marine Engineering and School of Basic Sciences.
The Nuclear Biological Chemical Defence School, which trains naval personnel on all aspects of NBCD, is also located in the station. The establishments, as of now, trains personnel and officers of the Indian Navy, Coast Guard, other sister services as well as Navies of 20 friendly foreign countries and has trained more than two lakh officers to date as sailors, both Indian and international.
The CMET, established in 1987, is the largest training department of the INS Shivaji and conducts qualifying, specialist and higher-level courses on operation and maintenance of mainstream auxiliary machinery on-board ships.
The training wings within CMET are diesel and gas turbine wing, steam machinery wing, systems and auxiliaries wing, system engineering and control wing, industrial training wing, computer application centre, engineering pre- commissioning training (EPCT) school.
The EPCT school is a dedicated centre of knowledge and has resources for conducting pre-commissioning type training for 47 different types of ships.
The Centre of Excellence (Marine Engineering) has a mandate to provide state-of-the-art technology solutions to issues faced by IN ships and has established academic and industrial collaborations with Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, IIT Bombay, Defence Research and Development Organisation.
The School conducts NBCD training for personnel from the Indian Navy, Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Coast Guard, defence civilians and several friendly foreign navies and is equipped with state-of-the-art simulators, AKSHAT for Damage Control, AJAR for firefighting and ABHEDYA for NBC training.
Speaking on the journey ahead for the institution, Commodore Srinivas said, “As we enter the 75th year of the institution, our effort will be to stay true to the motto ‘Karmasu Kaushalam’, which implies imbibing the concept of ‘skill at work’ in all facets of human endeavour. Chhatrapati Shivaji, after whom the institute was named, remains a guiding light for us. He inspires and we deliver.”