Man who initiated India’s new navy school forgotten now

January 7th, 2009 - 4:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghEzhimala (Kerala), Jan 7 (IANS) The former navy chief who initiated India’s new marine academy in this imposing mountainous region on a seashore in Kerala says he was not informed about the school being inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday.Admiral (retd) O.S. Dawson, 85, felt disappointed after he read in newspapers about the opening of the Ezhimala Naval Academy, which he had dreamt about 30 years ago.

Dawson however said in life such things do happen.

“It was when I was the flag officer commanding in chief at the Southern Naval Command in the early 1980s that I began the paperwork for starting this. First, I wrote to the then chief minister of the state and he instantly agreed,” the veteran sailor told IANS over telephone from his Bangalore home.

Dawson recalled how he was stunned to see Ezhimala when he first visited the place on a mission to rescue a fishing trawler.

“I was a young lieutenant in the navy when I was leading a small 100 feet vessel ML3112 at Kochi in 1948. We got a call that a fishing trawler was in trouble. We moved towards this place (but) the vessel commanded by a British was washed away.

“The place was extremely beautiful and believe me I felt this could be a prized possession for the navy,” said Dawson.

And when he returned to head the Southern Naval Command in 1979, he had a plan for Ezhimala.

“I flew in a helicopter over the place for an aerial survey and then started moving the papers, for which I received full support from the then state government,” said Dawson.

Dawson after becoming the navy chief in 1982 again took up the case of the academy.

“I faintly remember as navy chief, I spoke to (the then chief minister) K. Karunakaran. Things were moving, and I retired in 1984.

“But nevertheless, even though I am immaterial, I am really delighted that this has finally (got) ready,” said a pleased Dawson.

The nearly 2,500-acre sprawling academy is situated on a promontory that was the capital of the ancient Mooshika kings. It was a flourishing sea port and centre of trade in ancient Kerala and one of the major battle fields during Chola-Chera war in the 11th century. It is believed that Lord Buddha has also visited Ezhimala.

The Rs.7.21 billion ($149 million) naval school will conduct B.Tech courses for 750 cadets and commissioned officers from the academic session commencing next year.

The engineering programmes at the academy have been drawn up by the Indian Navy with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

Officers from foreign navies will also be eligible to attend the programmes at the academy to be headed by Rear Admiral M.P. Muraleedharan.

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