After a three-day global search and rescue effort, Commander Abhilash Tomy of the Navy, stranded in the Southern Indian Ocean, was rescued by French shipping vessel Osiris on Monday. He was stuck in inclement weather while participating in the Golden Globe Race (GGR) 2018, which commenced on July 1.
‘He is conscious’
“A sense of relief to know that naval officer Cdr Tomy is rescued by the French fishing vessel. He’s conscious and doing okay. The vessel will shift him to a nearby island (I'lle Amsterdam) by evening. INS Satpura will take him to Mauritius for medical attention,” Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in a tweet. An Indian Navy P-8I maritime patrol aircraft had reached the location in the morning. However, 8-10 metre high waves and heavy winds stalled rescue efforts.
Given first aid
“ Osiris reached the location around 1130 hrs on Monday and lowered a Gemini boat with a stretcher. The P-8I aircraft overhead guided them to the hatch from where they entered, put him on the stretcher and brought him to the boat,” Navy spokesperson Capt. D.K. Sharma said.
Cdr. Tomy was immediately given first aid, food and water. He had survived on iced tea.
He had suffered severe back injury after the mast of his boat Thuriya broke last Friday in extremely rough weather and sea conditions, with wind speeds of 130 kmph and 10 metre high waves.
He was stranded approximately 1,900 nautical miles from Perth, Australia, and 2,700 nm from Cape Comorin (Kanniyakumari).
Osiris then headed to rescue another participant in the race, Gregor McGuckin from Ireland, about 30 miles from Cdr. Tomy’s location. His boat, too, had been dis-masted due to bad weather.
Cdr. Tomy and Mr. McGuckin will be dropped on the French island of I'lle Amsterdam.
Cdr. Tomy’s sailing vessel Thuriya was first spotted on Sunday morning around 0750 hrs by an Indian Navy P-8I aircraft operating from Mauritius.
The Australian Rescue Coordination Centre (ARRC) in Canberra is coordinating the rescue mission in conjunction with many agencies including the Australian Defence Department and the Indian Navy.
The Indian Naval Defence Attaché' in Australia was camping in the regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC).
After the incident, Cdr. Tomy had managed to activate the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon but was unable to activate the aviation hand-held VHF radio or reach the second satellite phone in his bag as he was immobile.
His primary satellite phone was damaged and relied on a portable texting unit for messaging.
Frigate INS Satpura with a Chetak helicopter and tanker INS Jyoti operating in the Indian Ocean had also been diverted to join the rescue.
Cdr. Tomy, a seasoned sailor, is the only Indian to complete solo, non-stop circumnavigation of the globe in 2012-13 onboard the Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Mhadei and has covered 53,000 nautical miles under sail.
The historic race, GGR 2018, is being conducted by Sir Robin Knox Johnston of UK to commemorate 50 years since the world’s first solo non-stop circumnavigation undertaken by him in 1968 onboard the Indian-built boat, Suhaili .
“Praise the Lord. I am so happy...,” V.C. Tomy, a retired Naval man told mediapersons at his home near Kochi after his son’s rescue. Mr. Tomy said his son’s grit will see him come back to adventure sport. He said the family members would go to Australia to meet him.
( With PTI inputs )