Merchant Navy captain is first woman to get IMO bravery award

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Captain Radhika Menon, the first woman captain of the Indian Merchant Navy.

Captain Radhika Menon of India will become the first woman in the world to receive the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea for saving the lives of seven fishermen, who had given up hope for survival in tumultuous seas.

Radhika Menon is also the first woman captain of the Indian Merchant Navy, taking over command of her own vessel in 2011.  “Menon, Master of the oil products tanker Sampurna Swarajya, is to receive the 2016 International Maritime Organization 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,” the Indian shipping ministry said on Saturday.

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The seven rescued fishermen on board the Indian tanker

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), with its headquarters in London, is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. 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, the statement said.

“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.

The fishermen were surviving on old ice in boxes lying in the cold storage section of the boat as all their rations had been washed away.

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“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 km 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,” the IMO said. The tanker Sampurna Swarajya belongs to the Shipping Corporation of India.

It took several hours and three arduous attempts in  lashing wind and rain and massive waves to rescue the seven  frail fishermen, aged  15 to 50 years old.

The Awards ceremony is expected to take place at IMO Headquarters on November 21. – CINEWS



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