India’s rich maritime tradition, dating back several millennia, is set to come alive once again with the revival of an ancient maritime marvel – the stitched ship. In a momentous initiative by the Govt. of India, the Indian Navy, Ministry of Culture, and M/s Hodi Innovations, Goa, are collaborating to reconstruct an ancient stitched ship, reminiscent of the ships that once sailed the oceans on India’s ancient maritime trade routes.
This remarkable endeavour, deeply embedded in India’s cultural and civilizational heritage is a symbol of our nation’s rich shipbuilding legacy. Extensive research and consultation with a wide spectrum of subject matter experts have been instrumental in conceptualizing this ambitious project.
This initiative represents a collaborative effort spanning multiple ministries. The Indian Navy is overseeing the ship’s design and construction and would be sailing the ship along ancient maritime trade routes. The Ministry of Culture has fully funded this project, while the Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of External Affairs will be supporting the project to ensure seamless execution of the international voyage.
The Project was approved by the National Implementation Committee, Chaired by the Home Minister of India as a Commemoration Project on 14 Dec 2022. The Directorate of Naval Architecture of the Indian Navy engaged in several rounds of discussions with the Ministry of Culture, culminating in the signing of a tripartite agreement with M/s Hodi Innovations, Goa, on 18 July 2023, for the construction of the Ancient Stitched Ship.
The stitching work in the construction of this ship will be undertaken by a team of traditional shipwrights, led by Babu Sankaran, who is an expert in stitched ship construction. Using this age-old technique, the wooden planks will be shaped using the traditional steaming method to conform to the shape of the hull. Each plank will then be stitched to another using cords/ ropes, sealed with a combination of coconut fiber, resin, and fish oil – akin to the ancient Indian shipbuilding practice.
Once the ship is ready, a unique voyage will be undertaken by the Indian Navy along the traditional maritime trade routes using ancient navigation techniques. The journey of rediscovery and revival begins with the keel laying ceremony scheduled on 12 Sep 23, at M/s Hodi Innovations, Goa, where Meenakshi Lekhi, Minister of State for Culture and External Affairs, GoI will preside as the Chief Guest. Adm R Hari Kumar, CNS; Sanjeev Sanyal, Member of the Economic Advisor Council to the PM, will also be present on the occasion.