HMS TRINCOMALEE: A LIVING PROWESS OF SHIPBUILDING

By Saba Purkar, Project Research Associate, MHS

The average lifespan of a ship at sea is considered as 25-30 years. After that, the maintenance of the ship becomes too expensive and dangerous to voyage in. However, today i.e 12 October marks the launch date of the Royal Navy’s Leda class frigate HMS Trincomalee who carries in her bones over two centuries worth of history, making her the oldest afloat surviving warship of Great Britain. What is interesting and makes it relevant to us is that this ‘Grand Old Lady’ was built in the Bombay dockyards by none other than the famed Wadia shipbuilders.

The ships of East India Company covered a wide range of trade routes and to tap into this network they established a shipbuilding industry in Bombay under the local builders, the Wadia’s in this case. The HMS Trincomalee was built after the end of the Napoleonic wars by the Wadia group in Bombay at a whopping cost of 23,000 pounds back then. It was in May of 1816 that the work of building this ship began after none other than the master builder Mr. Jamsetjee Bomanjee Wadia himself hammered a ceremonial engraved silver nail into the ship’s keel, which was considered vital for ships well-being, according to the Parsi Zoroastrian tradition. What sets this ship apart from her sisters is that, she is made of teakwood in place of the commonly used oak. This was probably because of the scarcity of oak wood in Britain, in those times, owing to the rapid shipbuilding during the Napoleonic wars.

Continue reading “HMS TRINCOMALEE: A LIVING PROWESS OF SHIPBUILDING”

Building a Reed Boat

By Amruta Talawadekar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

Most of us have ferried across water in boats to a touristy destination. Most of these boats that we use are made out of wood or steel. Have you ever wondered what form of boats the habitants during the Indus Valley Civilisation used, almost 5000 years ago? The answer is a Reed Boat. Today if you want to see a reed boat in India, it will probably be only on the Maritime History Society’s logo which was designed by its founder Late VAdm MP Awati or you might have to travel all the way to Bolivia or Peru. Let’s explore how a Reed Boat is made.

Continue reading “Building a Reed Boat”

CAN WE HAVE THE ANCIENT SAILING EXPERIENCE?

By Dennard H D’Souza, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

While flipping through the pages of history, we hear the stories of great maritime voyages undertaken by brave Indian Sailors. Be it the stories of the Kalingan Sandabha who sailed from the coast of Odisha to the far-flung Bali some two thousand years ago, or be it the great Chola fleet that ploughed through the waters of the Indian Ocean to capture the lofty city gate, Vidydhara Torana of the Sri Vijayans. Don’t we feel the urge to witness those momentous events of Indian Maritime history? Don’t we want to experience the briny sprays that waft through the breeze as the sails hoist high? Many of us pine for that experience but some have managed to recreate nostalgic experience by reenacting such ambitious voyages.

Continue reading “CAN WE HAVE THE ANCIENT SAILING EXPERIENCE?”

The Maritime Records

By Amruta Talawadekar, Research Associate, Maritime History Society

 Heritage is what has been passed on from one generation to another. It includes buildings, tradition, culture, practices etc. which possess values and are a treasure to us. India has had a rich maritime history since the prehistoric times. Although very little has been recorded during prehistoric times, the historic era gives an insight on the maritime richness that the subcontinent has inherited. Written and documented records are a vital proof of historicity which has led to an understanding of this vast knowledge and heritage without practically experiencing it. Through ages, written records, cartographic sketches, inscriptions and murals have helped discover a lot in the maritime field

Continue reading “The Maritime Records”