Why a warship is a ‘She’!

Kiev-class  carrier which commissioned into the Indian Navy.  She has been renamed in honour of Vikramaditya, a legendary 1st century BC emperor.

INS Vikramaditya is a Russian built Kiev-class carrier which entered into service with the Indian Navy in 2013. She has been renamed in honour of Vikramaditya, a legendary  emperor.

Why Navy officials address a warship as ‘she’:

I always wondered why Navy officials addressed a warship as ‘she’. War ships or destroyers as they are referred to should be masculine. It was my assumption that as we call mother land, on that same logic navy address ship as she. I was totally wrong in my assumption!

Another day, during a commissioning of a war ship, I saw an officer with Maharastrian last name, Commander Pawar. Later he told me that he is not from Maharastra. Except the statue of Khanoji Angre a trusted admiral of Chhatrapati Shivaji ane one Vice Admiral, there are hardly few Maharastrian names in Western Naval Command.

I asked Cdr Pawar, why the war ship is called SHE. He laughed and said, “Because she (war ship) needs lot of lip stick & make up and she attract young men.” One lady journalist who was happen to be with me got very angry. She buys feminist theory so raised an objection strongly. Poor Commander felt very odd. He expressed sincere apology but remain stand on his statement.

I was not satisfied with justification so I went to Captain Singh. There are lot of Captain Singhs in Navy but he was distinguished one. He was entrusted to command ‘virgin war ships’ for sea trail immediately after commissioning, which is considered as risky and tough job.

I politely asked asked Capt Singh, “Sir, why do you call ship She?” He was very tall, bend down to my ear and said, “Because they need trained and skilled men like me to command and handle her. If you don’t measure up to her expectations she is sure to let you know (down).” I felt very offended still I thanked god that lady journalist was not around otherwise she would have complained to Admiral or may be to the Defence Minister.

I though both officers might be joking. So I went to Commander Sinha. There are several Cdr Sinhas. But he is distinguished as ‘our commander’ because – he leads ‘a gang of headless reporters’ and our news reports are incomplete without his say.

On a relaxed working day, I asked our Commander why do you call a warship “she”? He replied, “She always heads for the boys (bouys).” I asked him if that comment was on record? “Yes, it is. And she is always surrounded by young and capable men,” he said, smiling.

I realised why there were no lady officers in Navies across the globe.

INS Vikramaditya

INS Vikramaditya

INS Vikramaditya

INS Vikramaditya


(Pic courtesy : Defence PRO Mumbai.)


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