Friday, November 28, 2014

NAVY DAY and NAVY WEEK – A Sailor’s Perspective

NAVY DAY and NAVY WEEK – A Sailors Perspective
Ramblings of a Retired Navy Veteran

NAVY DAY and NAVY WEEK – The Navy Perspective

Every year, the 4th of December is observed as NAVY DAY by the Indian Navy.

In the Indian Navy, the Navy Day celebrations actually extend across the entire week in which the Navy Day falls, and this week is called the NAVY WEEK.

The celebrations are held mainly at Mumbai, and on a smaller scale in other Naval Stations like Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Goa etc, and in landlocked Delhi too.

In Mumbai, the Navy Week Celebrations culminate with Beating the Retreat Ceremony at Gateway of India and the grand finale is the spectacular Navy Ball at the end of the week on Saturday.  

During the Navy Week the Navy tries to showcase its capabilities to the civilian public by holding a series of combat demonstrations, live displays, parade drills and events like band concerts. 

Sometimes, naval families, veterans and prominent citizens are taken out for a day at sea to observe “shop window” exercises which demonstrate salient aspects of the navy at sea.

In a nutshell, as far as the Navy is concerned, the aim of Navy Week is to showcase the Navy to civilian citizens.

NAVY DAY and NAVY WEEK – A Sailors Perspective

This happened many years ago, in the 1970s.

A few weeks before Navy Week, responsibilities were allocated to various ships, and our ship was required to present the “continuity drill” display to be held at the Gateway of India 

The sailors on our ship started practicing very hard.

They sailors rehearsed day and night for the “continuity drill” display to be held at the Gateway of India during Navy Week.

A continuity drill is a most precise and difficult parade drill since the entire parade drill sequence and movements are to be performed without any words of command.

That is why it requires rigorous practice and repeated rehearsals before it can be perfected.

The sailors were practicing without break for over a month, during working hours and also in off-working hours, including on Sundays and holidays, in order to perfect the continuity drill.

The long hours of painstaking efforts paid off.

The event was a great success.

The Navy Top Brass congratulated our Captain on the excellent performance of his sailors.

After the event, I came across one of my newly recruited sailors who had taken part in the continuity drill.

I congratulated the young sailor on his performance and I asked him, “Do you know why Navy Week is celebrated?”

“To impress the civilians,” the sailor said.

At first, I was taken aback by his answer.

Then I saw that there was wisdom in what the raw young sailor had said.

The entire Navy, all of us, were slogging away for weeks, to put up a show for civilians.

Yes, we were desperately trying to impress the civilians who frankly did not give a tinkers damn about us, although they seemed to be enjoying the spectacle we were putting up for them.

I remember a friend of mine, who was in-charge of organizing Navy Week Activities, heave a sigh of relief once it was all over.

He remarked in disgust: “This Navy Week Tamasha must be scrapped. We screw ourselves for weeks to put up a show for these bloody civilians who just don’t care for us. 

Sometimes I wonder whether it is worth in putting in so much extra effort to try and impress civilians who do not seem to care two hoots about the Navy and Naval Sailors.

I wonder whether civilians understand the sanctity of such occasions, parades, combat demonstrations, ceremonial events and displays or whether they treat them as spectacles for entertainment and enjoyment.

Be that as it may, do spare a thought for our Navy Personnel on Navy Day, and during the Navy Week.

Think of all the sailors slogging it out on ships and submarines guarding the seas so that you can sleep in peace.

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