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Naval base with a fascinating history

Staff Reporter

Kochi: INS Venduruthy, home to the headquarters of the Southern Naval Command (SNC), which is the training command of the Navy, celebrated its 67 {+t} {+h} anniversary last week. Besides Mayor Mercy Williams and Inspector General of Police B. Sandhya, Vice-Admiral K.N. Sushil, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, SNC, took part in the celebrations.

Venduruthy, the public face of the Navy in Kochi, has a long and fascinating history documented from the time the island bore the name ‘Vittoruthi' meaning the one that let go, mentions ‘Timeline', a volume brought out by the Southern Naval Command.

Legend has it that the islands Venduruthy and Bolgatty were so near sometime ago that a coconut palm leaf would wedge the fissure between them. Coconut trees dotted the entire area then. It is said that once an argument erupted between two households from either side over the ownership of a coconut leaf that fell in an unclaimed area.

Two women, from either side, soon began to wrest it from each other. During the tussle, one of the women had to let the leaf go as the other yanked it with force. The locality of the woman who got it became ‘Ponnu ikkara' (came this side) while the other side came to be called ‘Vittoruthi', which eventually became Venduruthy.

The origin of INS Venduruthy can be traced to August 31, 1939, when a small naval contingent was positioned in Kochi under Royal Indian Navy Captain L. Wadeson, who assumed the duties of Naval Officer-in-Charge, Cochin.

Its mandate was primarily to look after local naval defence and operation of a port wireless signal station with about 20 officers and 50 ratings (sailors).

Three anti-submarine vessels and three mine sweepers were also positioned at Kochi. The rudiments of the naval coastal battery started taking shape at Fort Kochi in September 1939. HMIS (His Majesty's Indian Ship) Venduruthy with Commander G.S. Baker RINR (Royal Indian Naval Reserve) at the helm was commissioned on June 23, 1943, as the station got downsized after World War II.

Post-Independence, following the shifting of some naval training schools to Pakistan, Venduruthy was handpicked as the ideal location to set up corresponding training institutions.

Decades on, now it houses some of the Navy's Ivy League training institutions. The task of organising the annual Navy fest during the Navy Day celebrations rests with INS Venduruthy which then throws open the Naval Base to Kochiites.

INS Venduruthy is commanded by Commodore M.R. Ajayakumar, who is also the Naval Officer in-Charge, Kerala.

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