Untold Story of TS Dufferin


TS Dufferin
  • Discover the fascinating journey of TS Dufferin, originally a troop ship turned iconic training vessel. Unveil its evolution, significance, and the influential alumni it nurtured. From its 1904 launch to dividing services for deck and engineering cadets, TS Dufferin played a vital role in India’s maritime history. 
  • TS Dufferin produced notable alumni like Admiral Ram Dass Katari, India’s first Chief of the Naval Staff. While decommissioned in 1972 and plans for a museum abandoned, its legacy endures through its alumni and contributions to maritime education. 

Explore this tribute to a ship that forever impacted India’s maritime landscape.

History of Training Ship Dufferin 

TS Dufferin
  • The Training Ship Dufferin, known for its remarkable history, began its journey as something quite different. Back in 1904, it was constructed as a troop ship by the skilled hands at M/S Vickers Son and Maxim in Barrow-in-Furness, England. 
  • This ship, initially intended for the Royal Indian Marine, was launched on a notable day, the 14th of September. It wasn’t long before it made its way to Bombay, India, delivered to the government on the 21st of February in 1905. 
  • Little did it know that its purpose would evolve over the years, eventually becoming an iconic training vessel with a rich legacy. Let’s delve into the intriguing history and transformation of the Training Ship Dufferin.

Importance & Historical Background of Dufferin During World War

TS Dufferin

During World War I, T.S. Dufferin played a vital role as an auxiliary cruiser, actively serving in the conflict. However, once the war came to an end, she reverted to her original duty as a troop ship carrier, assisting in the transportation of military personnel and equipment. 

Post-World War I, in June 1925, T.S. Dufferin, along with her two sister troop ships, Hardinge and Northbrook, faced an uncertain fate as they were scheduled to be sold for scrap. This marked the end of an era for these historic vessels, which had seen both war and peacetime service.

T.S. Dufferin’s Transformation into a Maritime Training Institution

First batch of TS Dufferin
  • The transformation of TS Dufferin from a troop ship to an institution of maritime education marked a significant turning point in its history. This change was initiated by Sir Sivaswamy Aiyar in January 1922 when he was appointed in the Indian Mercantile Marine Committee. This committee, in its wisdom, recommended the establishment of a training ship in Bombay, aimed at providing young Indian boys with training in the maritime profession. 
  • Sir Sivaswamy Aiyar suggested that the troop ship Dufferin should be repurposed to serve this noble cause. Thus, the Indian Mercantile Marine Training Ship Dufferin was born, with its inaugural journey commencing in November. 
  • It embarked on an experimental phase that spanned three years before being officially recognized as a permanent institution in the year 1930, solidifying its legacy in the world of maritime education.

TS Dufferin’s Training Journey

  1. Training Beginnings: TS Dufferin’s Inaugural Class of 1927
  • TS Dufferin embarked on its training mission with the first batch of 30 selected candidates who joined the ship in November 1927. During the initial years, from 1927 to 1934, the ship focused on training executive cadets, laying the foundation for skilled maritime professionals.
Training Session with cadets
  1. Expansion of Training: Engineer Cadets on TS Dufferin, 1935
  • In 1935, TS Dufferin expanded its training program by welcoming its first batch of engineer cadets. This marked a significant development in the ship’s role in shaping maritime expertise.
  1. Post-Independence Initiative: Meeting India’s Maritime Workforce Needs
TS Rajendra Cadet in Republic Day Parade
  • Following India’s independence in 1947, the nation transitioned into a sovereign state. In response to the growing demand for trained maritime personnel, the Government of India initiated strategic measures to ensure the nation had a skilled workforce in the maritime sector. TS Dufferin’s role in training and shaping this workforce continued to be of paramount importance in the post-independence era.
  • TS Dufferin divided its service, reserving the ship exclusively for deck cadets. Simultaneously, a separate institution named the Directorate of Marine Engineering Training (DMET) was established in Calcutta, with a branch in Bombay, in 1948. 
  • This division marked a significant step in providing specialized training for both deck and engineering cadets, ensuring a well-rounded and skilled maritime workforce.

Silver Jubilee 

In 1952, TS Dufferin celebrated a momentous milestone – its Silver Jubilee. This significant event marked 25 years of dedicated service and training, highlighting the enduring legacy and contribution of the ship in shaping maritime professionals and its continued commitment to excellence in maritime education.

“Looking at the lady, I see she has stayed remarkably young and fit. I have no doubt that she will have many years of good service and good looks before her”

  • Late Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru 

Why was TS Dufferin replaced with TS Rajendra?

Captains of TS Dufferin

Inevitably, TS Dufferin reached a point where its capacity could no longer be expanded. As a result, a decision was made to replace the venerable training ship with a new one. In 1969, orders were placed at Hindustan Shipyard Ltd. for this purpose. 

The culmination of this effort occurred in April 1972 when the newly commissioned ship, the Rajendra, took centre stage in marine training.

Farewell to TS Dufferin | Decommissioning and Transition

  • This transition marked a bittersweet moment as TS Dufferin, which had trained over 2600 cadets, bid its farewell. On April 15th, 1972, a memorable and poignant decommissioning ceremony was held to formally retire the ship. Plans to transform TS Dufferin into a museum were considered but had to be abandoned due to the prohibitive costs of beaching and maintenance.
  • With a heavy heart, this ship, which had nurtured a glorious maritime tradition, had to be consigned to a scrapyard. TS Dufferin was sold as scrap for 27 lakhs, a stark contrast to its initial purchase price of 1.25 lakh in 1927. 
  • Accompanied by the staff and cadets of the Rajendra, TS Dufferin made its final voyage to the ship breaker yard at Darukhana, Bombay, on February 2nd, 1976. Despite its physical departure, TS Dufferin continued to live on as a cherished memory in the hearts of all its alumni, a testament to its enduring legacy in maritime education and training

The “Dufferin” may not exist today in steel and timber but in the minds of thousands of her ex-cadets and well wishers, There will always be a “Dufferin”

TS Dufferin Alumni

Admiral Ram Dass Katari

Admiral Ram Dass Katari
  • Admiral Ram Dass Katari (1911–1983) was India’s 3rd Chief of the Naval Staff, serving from 1958 to 1962. 
  • He was the first Indian to hold this position, succeeding Vice Admiral Sir Stephen Hope Carlill. He was a member of the inaugural batch of cadets on the Indian Mercantile Marine Training Ship Dufferin, where he earned the Viceroy’s gold medal.
  • He joined the Royal Indian Naval Reserve in 1939, serving on various ships and in instructional roles during World War II. His career included commands and instructional positions, and he culminated his service by leading the Indian Navy as Chief of the Naval Staff.


TS Dufferin’s journey, from a troop ship to a training vessel, stands as a testament to its vital role in shaping maritime history. Its legacy lives on through the achievements of its alumni, including Admiral Ram Dass Katari. Though the physical ship is no more, its enduring impact on maritime education and the careers of countless individuals continues to inspire. TS Dufferin serves as a reminder of the importance of institutions that nurture talent and contribute to excellence in maritime education. 

TS Dufferin Under British Rule

To know more about TS Dufferin: CLICK HERE

Disclaimer :- The opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Merchant Navy Decoded. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided and disclaim any responsibility for it. Data and visuals used are sourced from publicly available information and may not be authenticated by any regulatory body. Reviews and comments appearing on our blogs represent the opinions of individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of Merchant Navy Decoded. We are not responsible for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on these reviews or comments.

Reproduction, copying, sharing, or use of the article or images in any form is strictly prohibited without prior permission from both the author and Merchant Navy Decoded.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments