Indian-origin woman heads US Navy ship

“One of my young cooks has been intereested (sic) when I cook. He joined me for this set of food experiments,” writes Shanti Sethi in her blog article. No, she is not a chef or a home-maker. Far from it. She is a US Navy commander in chief on a ship visiting Chennai. She is the first female commander of a US naval ship to visit India.

Her ship, USS Decatur, is armed with surface-to-air missiles and anti-submarine rockets, and is on visit to India as a part of the US effort to demonstrate commitment to regional partners and promote bilateral relations.

She is in charge of a predominantly male crew, and she enjoys her job which often involves flirting with danger. “The stuff we do here is inherently dangerous, but we do it so well and so often that it becomes routine.”

But it’s not always as routine as she would want it to be.

American Indian Shanti Sethi
"This was taken about seconds after I was doused by a bucketfull of water during yesterday's fresh water wash of the ship," says Sethi

“Today the routine frayed and snapped in a microsecond. I guess it’s good sometimes to have your focus shifted from the unchanging road ahead to the hear (sic) and now,” she writes.

Following the recent Japan quake and tsunami, she received many emails enquiring about her safety. “Because I’ve gotten a few e-mail questions – we’re nowhere near Japan and the tsunami was essentially blocked from our region by large shore areas, so we’re completely unaffected.”

She also got questions about whether her ship was going to help the Japanese in the hour of crisis. ” We won’t be going to help because again, we’re too far way.

“That, and there’s a reason the ship is called a “Destroyer” and not something else – we’re just not well equipped to do the sorts of things Japan will need.

“The Navy has ships staioned (sic) in Japan that are much closer and better equipped and who are either already there or on thier way.”

Sethi, who was born to an Indian father and American mother, shares a unique connection with the sea.

“I was always taught to respect the sea – it’s an unforgiving medium and one that shouldn’t be disregarded. I love the sea.”


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