Suvali, also known as Swally located near Surat, is considered to be the birthplace of Indian Navy.
The naval Battle of Swally, also known as Battle of Suvali, took place on 29–30 November 1612 off the coast of Suvali (anglicised to Swally) a village near the Surat city and was a victory for four English East India Company galleons over four Portuguese galleons and 26 barks (rowing vessels with no armament).
This relatively small naval battle is historically important as it marked the beginning of the end of Portugal’s commercial monopoly over India, and the beginning of the ascent of the English East India Company’s presence in India.
This battle also convinced the English East India Company to establish a small navy to safeguard their commercial interests from other European powers and also from pirates. This small beginning is regarded as the root of the modern Indian Navy.
The history of the Indian Navy can be traced back to 1612 when Captain Best encountered and defeated the Portuguese. This encounter, as also the trouble caused by the pirates, forced the British East India Company to maintain a small fleet at Swally, near Surat (Gujarat). The First Squadron of fighting ships arrived on 5 September 1612, forming what was then called the Honourable East India Company’s Marine. It was responsible for the protection of the East India Company’s trade in the Gulf of Cambay and the river mouths of the Tapti and Narmada. The officers and the men of this force went on to play an important role in surveying the Arabian, Persian and Indian coastlines.
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