Commodore (Dr) Johnson Odakkal (Retd)

Commodore (Dr) Johnson Odakkal (Retd)

Honorary Adjunct Fellow

Areas of Research

  • Maritime Studies – History & Heritage, Geopolitics and International Relations
  • Nautical Knowledge – Ancient & Contemporary Marine Navigation


  • Present Overview:
    • Commodore (Dr) Johnson Odakkal, is a Navy Veteran, Research Guide & Internationally Certified Growth Coach. His professional seafaring journey commenced in November 1982 aboard Training Ship Rajendra, 39 years ago & served the Indian Navy for last 34 years, with final assignment as Director Maritime History Society from 2015 to 2021. He has authored “Timeless Wake – The Legacy of Royal Indian Navy in World War II” in addition to many scholarly works. He has a PhD in Civics & Politics from University of Mumbai in addition to an MPhil and two MSc degrees.
    • His papers, articles and talks on Global Maritime Perspectives & India’s Maritime Heritage have served to enhance maritime consciousness across a spectrum of academia and intelligentsia. Cmde Johnson handed over charge, in Aug 2021, as Director and Head of Research at the Maritime History Society, and superannuated from Indian Navy on 30 Sep 2021. He is an internationally certified John Maxwell Team speaker, teacher, trainer and coach.
    • Presently, Dr Johnson Odakkal is the CEO and Founder of Johnson Odakkal Initiatives which is a venture to enhance knowledge influence, provide effective growth solutions, and envision life navigation with life lessons from the sea.
  • Additional Roles (Other than NMF)
    • Advisor, Freedom Museum Project by National Museum Institute under Ministry of Culture, Government of India [Since September 2021]
    • Advisory Council, Maharashtra Mahasangrahalaya Project [Since June 2021]
    • Teaching Faculty [Since 2016] & Research Guide [Since 2020] in Maritime Studies at Naval War College, Goa
    • Guest Faculty in International Relations and Maritime Dimension at Department of Civics and Politics, University of Mumbai [Since 2015]
    • Board of Studies [Since Jul 2021] & Guest Faculty [Since 2019] at School of Security Studies, Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar
    • Guest Faculty [Since 2016] in Maritime History at Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala, Kerala
  • Previous Naval Assignments
    • Deputy Assistant Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (DACIDS) for Medium and Short Term Force Structuring at Headquarters IDS, New Delhi, Jan 2014 to Apr 2015. Undertook 12th Plan (Defence) Review and Upgrade in addition to Steering Assessment of Tri-Service Acquisitions
    • Director, Centre for Leadership and Behavioural Studies, Kochi, Apr 2012 – Dec 2013. Head of Training for Sub Lieutenant Technical Courses and Coordinator Behavioural and Leadership Studies.
    • Director, Maritime Warfare Centre, Kochi, May 2009 – Mar 2012. Responsible for National Operational Naval Wargaming, International Maritime Legal Studies and Maritime Warfare Training.
    • Deputy Director, Maritime Warfare Centre, Visakhapatnam, Jan 2007 – Apr 2009. Conducted Amphibious and General Wargaming for Naval Units at Eastern Naval Command.
    • 2004-2006 : Staff Officer (Navigation and Aircraft Direction) & Training Faculty in Naval Operations at Indian Naval Work Up Team, Kochi.
    • 1998-1999 : Assistant Director (Training) & Faculty in Nautical & Oil Tanker Operations at Naval Maritime Academy, Mumbai
  • Seminar, Workshop and Symposium Leadership
    • Maritime History & Shipping Industry Workshop at Gujarat Maritime University, Gandhinagar, 01-02 Dec 2021
    • Symposium Coordinator of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav Digital Symposium on “Navy and 75 years of Nation Building by Indian Navy on 09 Aug 21.
    • Mentor & Head of Planning of National Workshop on Maritime History conducted jointly by Indian Maritime University & Maritime History Society on 21-22 April 2021.
    • Director of “1946 Naval Uprising : Span & Significance” Seminar on 17 – 18 Feb 2021.
    • Director of Maiden “National Maritime Heritage Conclave 2020” on Unsung Frames in Indian Maritime History : 18 – 19 Nov 2020. Held in collaboration with Gujarat Maritime University, Gandhinagar.
    • Stakeholder Discussion in partnership with UNESCO, New Delhi and National Maritime Foundation on “Safeguarding Under Water Cultural Heritage” on World Maritime Day 24 Sep 2020
    • Maritime Studies Workshop at School of Security Studies at Central University of Gujarat, Gandhinagar, Feb 2020
    • Coordinator Annual MHS Maritime Seminars 2015 – 2019
    • Seminar Planning Team for Annual Dilli Series Seapower Seminar of Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala, Kerala 2016 – 2019
    • Chief Wargame Controller of Annual Indian Navy Theatre Level Wargame “TROPEX” from 2010 – 2012
    • Coordinator (Naval Phase) of Defence Correspondents Course at Maritime Warfare Centre, Kochi, Jul 2011
    • Coordinator of Annual Indo-US Table Top Exercise “Habunag” Series in Amphibious Operations for 2007 – 2009
    • Head of Naval Team at Indo-US Disaster Relief Tri-Service Table Exercise at US Pacific Command, Hawaii, Apr 2008
    • Head of Disaster Relief Sub-Committee at ASEAN Table Top Workshop held at Kochi in 2003 by Ministry of External Affairs
  • Research Supervisory Assignments
    • Research Supervisor (PhD – Two Scholars) at Naval War College, Goa (2021 onwards till 2025)
    • Teaching Faculty for Research Methodology & Maritime Studies at Naval War College, Goa 2017 to date
    • Concept and Conduct of Two Year MHS Special Research Programme 2019 – 2021
    • Research Supervisor for M.Phil Dissertation by Capt D Madhusudan on “Net Assessment of India’s Security Balance and Maritime Force Structuring: 2017- 2032” Mar 2017
    • Research Supervisor for M.Phil Dissertation by Capt Ben Berson on “Maritime Wargaming” Mar 2011


  • PhD in Civics & Politics, University of Mumbai, Apr 2016. Thesis Title “Effective Governance of Multilateral Maritime Military Operations – Implications for Contemporary International Politics
  • M.Phil in Maritime Operations and International Relations from then College of Naval Warfare under University of Mumbai, Oct 2010
  • M.Sc in Defence and Strategic Studies from Defence Services Staff College under University of Madras, Oct 2003
  • M.Sc in Nautical Science and Tactical Operations from Navigation, Operations and Aircraft Direction School under Cochin University of Science and Technology, Dec 1993


  1. “Geopolitical Context & National Churns of Goa Liberation – A Malabar Connect” Paper presented at Goa Liberation 1961 Diamond Jubilee Seminar by Indian Navy / Goa Naval Area on 14 Dec 2021
  2. “Historical Perspectives of Seafarers in Shipping & Transitions amidst a Pandemic” at Maritime Labour Law Academy, Gujarat Maritime University on 22 Nov 2021
  3. “Looking forward from Indian Maritime History & Naval Journey” at a Seminar on “Assessing India’s Role and Challenges in the Indo-Pacific Region and Way Forward, by Indic Research Forum on 13 Nov 2021
  4. “Sea Power in Shaping a Nation : A Case History of 18th Century Bay of Bengal” Paper presented at ICWA Seminar ‘KM Panikkar & the Growth of Maritime Consciousness in India’ on 24 Mar 2021
  5. “Evolving Nature of International Relations in the Indo-Pacific : The Malabar Confluence” Paper published in Indian Naval Despatch, Winter 2020
  6. “Maritime Security Coordination in Indian Ocean Region” Talk given to CMMI, Patna Chapter on 31 Oct 2020
  7. “Maritime Theory Approach for Functional Effectiveness in the Indo-Pacific” Paper published as lead author in Sage / India Quarterly in Aug 2020.
  8. “Climatological Aspects in Indian Navigation” Paper presented jointly at ICWA Seminar ‘Roads, Winds and Spices’ in Jul 2020
  9. “Surfing through the Waves of Law and Governance at Sea” Paper presented at All India Legal History Congress at Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar, Feb 2020
  10. “Evolving Influence of Seapower in Emerging Geoeconomics” Paper in Indian Naval Academy Publication “Role of Sea Power in Shaping of Nations” ISBN 978-93-5396-142-8, Dec 2019
  11. “Maritime Theory Approach to North Arabian Sea”, Paper in Naval War College Journal ISSN: 2349-9125 Vol 31 October 2019
  12. “Island Batteries at Middle Ground and Oyster Rock”, Paper presented at Annual Seminar of KR Cama Oriental Institute, Mumbai, Feb 2019.
  13. “Health and Healing : A Maritime Perspective”, Paper Presented at Ocean Medicine Seminar conducted by Centre of Extra Mural Studies, University of Mumbai, Dec 2018
  14. “India into the Indo-Pacific : The Mandated Mechanisms”, Paper in Naval War College Journal ISSN: 2349-9125 Vol 30 October 2018
  15. “Bali Yatra : An Early to Medieval Era Perspective”, Paper Presented at Annual Dilli Series Seminar of Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala, Kerala, Oct 2017
  16. “Overview of Indian Maritime History” Presented at National Maritime Seminar at Tolani College of Commerce, Mumbai, Sep 2017
  17. “Bay Battles 18” Paper Presented at Annual Dilli Series Seminar of Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala, Kerala, Oct 2016


All Publications

  • “Essays in Maritime Studies – Vol III” ISBN 978-93-85331-00-8, Published by Maritime History Society, Dec 2016
  • “Timeless Wake : Legacy of Royal Indian Navy in World War II” ISBN 978-81-908108-6-9 Published by Maritime History Society, Dec 2013
  • “Maritime Legacy : Priesthood of Peace,” An article in on 02 Oct 2021
  • “Freedom at Sea with Navy & Nation Building,” An article in on 09 Aug 2021.
  • “Seafaring Tack from a Subaltern Narrative,” An exclusive article in Sea & Coast July 2021 Edition.
  • “Oceans and the Calm Cycle of Turbulence,” An exclusive article in Sea & Coast June 2021 Edition.
  • “Indian Navy Enhances Security and Growth for All in Indian Ocean Region: Anytime & Anywhere,” An article in on 19 January 2021 and in Defence Minsters Conclave Brochure at Aero India 2021
  • “We must Unwrap Neglected Frames of Maritime History” An Interview towards the Cover Story in Anniversary Special Issue of The Week, 27 Dec 2020.
  • “Exploring Unsung Frames in Maritime History” as a curtain raiser on 17 Nov 2020 to first National Maritime Heritage Conclave 2020
  • “India and the United Nations : Peace and Good Order at Sea” A Two-Part Article in The Daily Guardian on 24 and 26 Oct 2020