April 5 marks the National Maritime Day of India. On this day in 1919 navigation history was created when SS Loyalty, the first ship of the Scindia Steam Navigation Company, journeyed to the United Kingdom. The National Maritime Day was first celebrated on 5th April, 1964.
The strategic geographical position of the Indian sub-continent with vast expanse of the seas around naturally led to seafaring even in the days of the Indus Valley civilisation dating back to circa 3000 BC. Since time immemorial Indians have displayed a remarkable interest in seafaring and maritime activities. The shipbuilding industry in India had shown great progress so long as sailing ships with wooden hull were in vogue.
Since the dawn of history Indians have participated in international sea-borne commerce. The advent of Europeans opened India’s coasts for trade and commerce. After Independence Indian shipping began to progress at a rapid pace. The Indian Navy, which is responsible for guarding the country’s shores and protecting our shipping in times of war, has also considerably expanded and strengthened into a potent force.
Maritime history goes back to the hoary past. Because no country has jurisdiction over the seas, it has been necessary for nations to reach agreements regarding ways of dealing with ships, crews and cargoes when disputes arise. The London-based International Maritime Organisation is the United Nation’s specialised agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships. The Organisation also convenes international maritime conferences and drafts international maritime conventions from time to time. IMO has 158 countries as its members, India became its member in 1959.