Radhika Menon becomes the first woman worldwide to receive the Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea for 2016, from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Importantly, the IMO is the United Nations specialised agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
She was presented with this award for saving lives of seven fishermen from sinking fishing boat in Bay of Bengal. Besides, B M Das operator and diver of a rescue helicopter at Indian Coast Guard air station Daman was also presented with this award. He was bestowed with this award for rescuing all 14 crew members of the merchant ship Coastal Pride, which capsized and eventually sank.
The IMO Council, meeting for its 116th session in London, endorsed the decision of a Panel of Judges that Captain Menon displayed great determination and courage in leading the difficult rescue operation in the Bay of Bengal during June 2015.
“Menon, Master of the oil products tanker Sampurna Swarajya, is to receive the 2016 International Maritime Organisation Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea for her role in the dramatic rescue of seven fishermen from a sinking fishing boat in tumultuous seas in the Bay of Bengal in June last year,” Shipping Ministry said in a statement. “Captain Menon was nominated by the Government of India, for the rescue of all seven fishermen from the fishing boat Durgamma, which was adrift following engine failure and loss of anchor in severe weather,” the statement said further.
“Food and water had been washed away and they were surviving on ice from the cold storage.Through wave heights of more than 25 feet, winds of more than 60 knots and heavy rain, on 22 June, the second officer on the Sampurna Swarajya spotted the boat 2.5 kilometres away, off the coast of Gopalpur, Odisha. Captain Menon immediately ordered a rescue operation, utilizing the pilot ladder and with life jackets and buoys on standby…. It took three arduous attempts in the lashing wind and rain and heavy swells before all seven weak and starving fishermen, aged from 15 to 50 years old, were brought to safety on board the ship”, it added.
Radhika Menon had joined the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) as a trainee radio officer in 1991. She was the first woman to do so and is native of Kodungallur in Kerala. In 2011, Radhika Menon had made history by becoming the first woman to become captain of Indian Merchant Navy. In 2012, she took charge of MT Suvarna Swarajya.
The award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea is an annual Award established by IMO. It seeks to provide international recognition for those who perform acts of exceptional bravery at the risk of losing their own life.
by Ashwani Srivastava