Captain Radhika Menon, Master of the oil products tanker Sampurna Swarajya, is to receive the 2016 International Maritime Organization (IMO) Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea for her role in the dramatic rescue of seven fishermen from a sinking fishing boat in tumultuous seas.
The IMRF is represented on the IMO’s panel of judges by Stein Solberg, who thoroughly endorsed the decision to make the award to Captain Menon. She displayed great determination and courage in leading the difficult rescue operation in the Bay of Bengal in June last year.
Captain Menon was nominated by the Government of India for the rescue of the crew of the fishing boat Durgamma, which was adrift following engine failure and loss of its anchor in severe weather. Food and water had been washed away and the fishermen were surviving on ice from the cold store.
Through wave heights of more than 25 feet, winds of more than 60 knots and heavy rain Sampurna Swarajya’s Second Officer spotted the boat off the coast of Gopalpur, Orissa, on 22 June 2015. Captain Menon immediately ordered a rescue operation, utilising the pilot ladder and with life jackets and buoys on standby. In the prevailing conditions it took three attempts before all seven weak and starving fishermen, aged from 15 to 50 years old, were brought to safety on board the ship.
Their families had already considered them to be lost at sea, but thanks to Captain Menon and Sampurna Swarajya, they were reunited with their loved ones a few days later.
Captain Menon is the first female captain in the Indian Merchant Navy and will be the first woman to receive the IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea, which will be presented at a ceremony at IMO Headquarters on 21 November. The IMRF joins in congratulating her and her crew.