On 22 Jun 15 at 0710 hrs, Cdr Sanjay Shukla, as Captain of Seaking 42C aircraft, saved the lives of 19 personnel from onboard MV Jindal Kamakshi which was in distress 40 nm north west of Mumbai. The officer undertook the mission under very hostile weather. The on-going monsoons with sea state 5, wind speeds in excess of 40 Kn and swell of 4 metres had cumulatively jeopardised the stability of the vessel. Under such circumstances the lives of its crew members relied on first available rescue mission. The officer was tasked to evacuate personnel safely before the ship sank.
On sighting the ship at 1000 yards due poor visibility and non-availability of any deck, the officer decided to evacuate the crew by winching. The conditions in the area were extremely hostile for the evolution, with the sea being extremely rough, swell exceptionally high, gusting winds and heavy rain resulting in marginal visibility. Apart from the precarious list to Port, the ship was rolling excessively due to heavy swell. The helicopter was thus required to maintain a steady hover over the ship as the winching area was small and obstructions protruding over the top deck. During this strenuous task, not once did the officer waiver from his hover position for almost 45 mins and exhibited exceptional piloting skills in the face of perilous weather and sea conditions whilst he winched up the crew into the safe confines of his helicopter.
He completed the entire mission over a period of 2 hours in extremely hazardous conditions. Cdr Sanjay Shukla was undeterred in the face of such demanding conditions and displayed valour, exceptional piloting skills and resilience, battled the natural elements and successfully winched up 19 crew members and brought them back to Mumbai safely.
The actions taken by the officer of evacuating personnel from the scene led to saving of 19 lives. Executing such an evacuation operation by winching under the prevalent hazardous conditions requires exceptional bravery in risking own life as well as superlative piloting skills. The rescue of the ship’s crew in strong winds and rain, whilst safeguarding his aircraft and crew did involve supreme piloting skills, professional judgement and individual act of exceptional courage by the officer and thus merits recognition by award of Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry).
NAO SENA MEDAL (GALLANTRY)
CDR ASHOK KUMAR (83807-W), CCDT (MBI)
In Mar 15, Dornier IN-240 had ditched off Karwar and lay at a depth of 58m. Command Clearance Diving Team, Mumbai (CCDT (Mbi)) was tasked for recovery of fuselage and the mortal remains of the personnel likely to be entrapped therein. Diving to this depth was beyond both the qualification depth of Clearance Divers, viz, 55 m and the equipment available viz 50 m. Depth also posed danger of nitrogen narcosis that impairs the divers’ judgement and imposed bottom time restrictions and decompression penalty. Further, the mangled condition of wreck posed danger of snagging/ damaging divers’ equipment and was also partially sunk in loose mud that posed problems of extracting the bodies within limited dive time.
Sensing the urgency and importance of the task at hand, Cdr Ashok Kumar, Squadron Commander, CCDT (Mbi), led his team by personal example showing raw courage and devotion to purpose. He dived repeatedly for location of the wreck and thereafter for salvage of the wreck even exceeding the stipulated limiting line exposing him to great danger. He personally recovered both the bodies as well as the Flight Data Recorder (Black Box) by innovatively gaining access to them through the damaged fuselage by sheer strength, brute force and raw courage under the prevalent dangerous circumstances.
The evolution was undertaken in dangerous conditions that tested the limits of the officer as well as his equipment. His valiant efforts even at his age of 50 plus years led to recovery of the bodies of two officers and flight data recorder through sheer valour and courage in adverse circumstances. It is evident that the officer displayed indomitable courage, conspicuous gallantry of a very high order, which resulted in successful completion of the salvage operation. The officer is hence recommended to be considered for the award of Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry).
NAO SENA MEDAL (GALLANTRY)
ANIL KUMAR, POA (ACMD), (122947-A), INS SHIKRA
On 24 Jun 15, at 0800, Anil Kumar, POA (Aircrew Man Diver), as free diver onboard SC 558, was directed to rescue the crew of MV Coastal Pride. On reaching the area despite poor visibility of around 800 meters he located the capsized ship along with all six survivors. It was decided that the crew needed to be evacuated by winching, using double lift procedure.
The conditions in the area were very hostile with sea extremely rough, swell exceptionally high, winds gusting to 40 knots and heavy rain resulting in marginal visibility. In addition, with the ship having capsized, a large amount of debris were floating around the survivor’s which posed a grave danger to him and the survivors. These conditions were extremely perilous and necessitated the free diver to have nerves of steel whilst being lowered into the sea and accomplish a successful rescue.
In an exceptional display of valour in the face of the hostile weather, with scant regard for his own life, Anil Kumar, POA (Aircrew Man Diver) accepted the challenge of being lowered into the sea and picked up all six crew members. His presence in the water was reassuring for the survivors whom he motivated and carried them on his lap, one at a time, in an orderly and professional manner.
The rescue attempt under the prevalent weather conditions itself was a hazardous operation. Further, the sailor, by getting himself lowered into the sea for rescue faced the danger of injury by floating debris as well as getting swarmed by the survivors in panic. It is therefore opined that the sailor took a risk in executing rescue operations. He had not only proved his professional skills and stamina but his resoluteness and courage under hazardous conditions. The gallant act of the sailor showcasing heroic courage in saving six lives deserves recognition. The sailor is hence recommended to be considered for the award of Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry).
NAO SENA MEDAL (GALLANTRY)
TP SINGH, NA I (ACMD), (224869-T), INS SHIKRA
On 22 Jun 15 at 0710, Thongbam Prakash Singh, NA I (Aircrew Man Diver), as free diver onboard SC 558, was directed to rescue the crew onboard MV Jindal Kamakshi. On arrival at the grief stricken ship, due lack of any deck, rescue necessitated undertaking precise winching.
The conditions in the area were very hostile with sea extremely rough, swell exceptionally high, winds gusting to 35 knots and heavy rain resulting in marginal visibility. Apart from the precarious list to port, the lethal combination of substantial roll due to rough weather and the obstructions on the ship necessitated that the free diver be lowered onboard the stricken ship to ensure successful winching of 19 personnel who individually had to be trained and briefed on the winching procedure.
In an exceptional display of valour in the face of the perilous weather, with scant regard for his own life, Thongbam Prakash Singh, NA I(Aircrew Man Diver), accepted the hazardous task of being lowered onboard the stricken ship. Once onboard, the sailor provided the required moral support to the ship’s crew,and ensured safety of the helicopter whilst simultaneously ensuring safe winching of the 19 personnel. With complete disregard to his personal safety, he stayed onboard the abandoned ship which was in danger of sinking till last of the 19 crew members were winched up.
The sailor’s role in the rescue operation as a free diver lowered on to a severely listed ship in rough seas deserves recognition. Under the prevalent hazardous conditions of heavy rain, dangerous precarious list, substantial roll and the obstructions on the ship, the sailor’s actions to ensure successful winching of 19 personnel after individually training them, indicate an exceptional display of valour with scant regard for his own life. The sailor is hence recommended to be considered for the award of Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry).