Three naval officers have been awarded the Nao Sena medal for conducting anti-piracy operations on the high seas near the coast. Commanders Arun Bahuguna, Joji Tom Mundakel and S. Muthu Kumaran are the officers who have been awarded the gallantry medal on the occasion of 65th Independence Day.
Cdr. Bahuguna was at the helm of the INS Cankarso when, on January 28 this year, the vessel intercepted pirate mother-ship m.v. Prantalay-14, a Thai-flagged trawler which was hijacked. During the operation, the pirates started firing upon the Cankarso. “Despite the discernible hail of bullets, Cdr. Bahuguna remained on the bridge of his ship, providing visible and inspirational leadership to his officers and men,” sources in the Navy said here. Realising that darkness would soon descend, he daringly closed in on the pirate vessel and engaged her with his ship's medium machine gun. With him leading from the front, the pirate vessel was immobilised.
In a similar operation, Cdr. Mundakel, while commanding INS Suvarna, successfully intercepted m.v. Mortaza on March 26 this year and the action led to the capture of 16 pirates and rescue of 16 hostages onboard. The incident occurred in the Arabian Sea
The other incident, for which Cdr. Kumaran was honoured, occurred in November last some 450 nautical miles west of Mumbai. He led a 12-member team of marine commandos (MARCOS) to rescue 14 crew members of m.v. Orinoco and sanitised the ship in the face of extensive hurdles and possible retaliation by pirates. The crew of the ship, after reporting that they were under attack from pirates, locked themselves up in the engine room and steering compartment and communicated by email with their Dubai agents U.K. Maritime Trade Operations, who, in turn, contacted the Indian Navy for assistance.
The Navy sent one of its Missile Corvettes, INS Veer, to intercept the distressed vessel and also sailed a capital ship, INS Delhi, with a team of MARCOS and support by surveillance aircraft.
Vayu Senal Medal
The Vayu Senal Medal for gallantry has gone to IAF pilots Wing Commander Vivek Ahluwalia, Squadron Leader Dhruv Kumar and Flight Lieutenant Hasheer Hameed.