New Delhi: In a major step towards gender equality in the armed forces, two women have created history by becoming the first to be deployed on Indian Navy warships as part of the ship’s crew. Also Read - In Strong Repulse to China, India Invites Australia, Forms 'Quad' Alliance in Malabar Naval Drill | What to Expect

Sub Lieutenant Kumudini Tyagi and Sub Lieutenant Riti Singh will be the first women airborne tacticians in India to operate from the deck of warships. Also Read - India Successfully Test Fires Brahmos Supersonic Missile From Indian Navy Ship in Chennai

Both of them passed out of Indian Navy’s Observer Course, at Southern Naval Command, Kochi on Monday. Both are engineering graduates in computer science and were commissioned into the Navy in 2018. They will operate helicopters onboard the ships, an area where male officers reigned until now.

Sub Lt. Singh, who belongs to Hyderabad, is the third generation from her family to serve in the armed forces. Her grandfather was in the Army and her father in the Navy. “It was my dream to adorn the white uniform,” she said.

For Sub Lt. Tyagi, who hails from Ghaziabad, the Navy was all about the water, till she joined the force. “I was motivated to join the naval aviation wing on hearing about the death of woman officer Lt. Kiran Shekhawat in 2015 in an accident involving a Naval aircraft. Navy personnel work on the land, air and water and that was a challenge I wanted to take up,” she said.

The Indian Navy employs several women officers in its ranks, however, women have not been embarked on warships for lengthy durations up until now due to various reasons, including lack of privacy in crew quarters and availability of gender-specific bathrooms.

But that is going to change now with these two young women who are training to operate a host of sensors onboard Navy multi-role helicopters, including SONAR consoles and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) payloads. It is expected that the two officers will eventually fly on the Navy’s new MH-60 R helicopters, 24 of which are on order.

Two other women officers, Sub Lt. Afnan Sheikh and Sub Lt. Kreeshma R, too passed out on Monday. They would operate the fixed wing aircraft of the Navy, a domain where women are already active. The four women officers were part of a batch of 21 Navy and Coast Guard personnel who passed out on Monday.