Young World

O captain! My captain!

Captain Radhika Menon  

Most people cower in the face of adversity. Few, however, possess the equanimity and poise to collect their wits when faced with danger. And that is precisely what Radhika Menon, the first woman captain in India’s Merchant Navy, did on a grim day at sea in June, last year.

Powering through

Master of the oil products tanker, Sampurna Swarajya, Menon witnessed a horrifying sight on the Bay of Bengal. Due to inclement weather, a fishing boat, Durgamma, was caught in a storm after having drifted away from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to Gopalpur in Odisha. Without much ado, Menon went on to save all seven fishermen on board the Durgamma. She made the headlines last week for having been selected as the first woman in the world to receive the Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Known to stray off the beaten path, Radhika, was firm in her resolve to not trod the well beaten path with the run-of-the mill nine-to-five jobs. As soon as she had cleared her Std. XII exams she joined the Indian Navy. Her first responsibility in the Navy was to look after the ship’s communication system. She was the first woman radio officer of India. Radhika did not like to settle for anything but the best, and continued to appear for exams and excel in her career. In 2010, she cleared her master’s certificate exam and sailed in MT Suvarna Swarajya twice before she went on to taking charge of the ship as captain.

The first woman to win an award for bravery at sea is also the first woman captain of India’s Merchant Navy. She is appreciated for her quick thinking in rescuing seven fishermen. She says, “It is a maritime obligation to save souls in distress at sea and, as a seafarer and master in command of my ship, I just did my duty.”

It is to recognise Radhika’s gallantry that the International Maritime Organsiation (IMO), in its 116 session in London, endorsed the decision of a panel of judges that Radhika had displayed grit and determination in ensuring that the seven fishermen had come out of their ordeal unscathed. She is expected to receive the award at the IMO Headquarters in London, on November 21, this year.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 10:26:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/kids/O-captain-My-captain/article14500931.ece

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