SAR In a daring and complex operation, a Sea king 42 C helicopter from Eastern Naval Command winched down a MARCO officer on the ill-fated merchant vessel SSL Kolkata which has been on fire for the last two days and was abandoned by the 22 crew members on 14 June 2018 off Sagar Island.
The MARCO officer ascertained the conditions in the forward part of the ship and later called in the helicopter to lower on board three crew members of the ship. The team managed to drop the starboard anchor of the ship to prevent her from drifting any further. Thereafter the team prepared seamanship gear for the ship to be towed, if required. The live nature of the threat was evident from an explosion on board in the forenoon which restarted the fire.
The helicopter skillfully recovered all four members of the team and is returning base for a turnaround. Earlier, the Eastern Naval Command had put in place a plan to ensure that the ship’s drift towards the Sundarban delta be stopped at all costs despite the high temperatures onboard to avoid an ecological disaster should the ship capsize on the sandbanks causing pollution from oil on board. Accordingly, a Sea king 42C helicopter and a Dornier aircraft were dispatched with a core team comprising divers, MARCOS, shipwrights and seamanship specialists.
Simultaneously, Naval Officer-in-Charge West Bengal liaised with officials of DG Shipping, ICG, KOPT, the ship owners, agents and salvage specialists at Kolkata and kept them informed of the plans.
INS Kadmat, deployed in the Bay of Bengal, was diverted to proceed at best speed and arrived on site at first light on 16 June 2018 to augment the onsite support wherein the ICG ships were also standing by. The operation today morning has successfully managed to arrest further drift of the ship to enable salvage operations by the company.
While Speaking to DefenceLover, navy officer who was a part of operation gave a statement:
Ever wondered what super heroes look like? Indian super heroes don’t wear capes.. they sometimes adorn themselves in bright white, sky blue and olive greens.
These particular Super Heroes were in overalls while they duelled with the fire gods, wind gods, trecherous smoke and all this on a floating blasting ship… yup. Blasting ship.
Here’s just a glimpse, of what these seemingly ordinary human beings didnt sign up to do, but their love for their Motherland and their countrymen is just slightly more than care for their own lives…
Right from launching themselves on a burning blasting unguided ship to anchor her so that she didn’t set the Sundarbans ablaze, to actually hovering and maintaining position in the midst of smoke and blasts, in the middle of the sea! No feat is impossible for these men.
And can you imagine the strangest thing?
They rose from amongst us only…