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Commander Tomy sighted by Navy aircraft

Abhilash Tomy. File photo

Abhilash Tomy. File photo   | Photo Credit: K.K. Mustafah

In a positive development in the massive global search and rescue effort for Commander Abhilash Tomy of the Indian Navy, injured and stranded in his sailing vessel in the Golden Globe Race (GGR), a French ship is expected to reach him on Monday morning.

“Cdr. Tomy shall be picked up in the next 16 hrs by French vessel Osiris. Thereafter, they are likely to rendezvous with Australian Naval ship HMAS Ballarat, which has left Perth to bring him,” the Navy said on Sunday evening. Osiris has a medical officer and one-bed infirmary on-board.

At 7.50 a.m. on Sunday morning, an Indian Navy P-8I aircraft operating from Mauritius visually sighted the sailing vessel Thuriya. “Continuous watch over the boat is being maintained by Indian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft, till rescue is completed,” the Navy said.

The Australian Rescue Coordination Centre (ARRC) at 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 is camping at the regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC).

Cdr. Tomy managed to activate the Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon earlier in the day, but has so far been unable to activate the aviation hand-held VHF radio in his bag, which is essential to communicate with search and rescue aircraft flying overhead. His primary satellite phone is damaged and he is unable to reach the secondary sat phone. He is using a portable texting unit for messaging.

Commander Tomy sighted by Navy aircraft
 

Cdr. Tomy in his last text message indicated that he is safe on the boat, but immobile due to back injury.

Indian Naval stealth frigate, INS Satpura with a Chetak Helicopter and tanker INS Jyoti, operating in the Indian Ocean, have been dispatched for the rescue mission, the Navy has stated. However, the earliest arrival of INS Satpura to the current location can be expected only by Friday.

Cdr. Tomy is in the south Indian Ocean, approximately 1,900 nautical miles from Perth, Australia, and 2,700 nm from Kanniyakumari. Even now, the weather at the location remains rough, with waves as high as 10-12 feet.

The mast of his boat Thuriya broke on Friday and is hanging by the side due to extremely rough weather and sea conditions, with wind speeds of 130 kmph and 10 metre high waves. Cdr. Tomy is participating in the historic GGR 2018, which commenced on July 1, 2018.

Only Asian invitee

Cdr. Tomy, an experienced sailor, is the only invitee from Asia in the prestigious GGR that commenced from Les Sables d’Olonne harbour in France in July. Before the incident, he was in 3rd position out of 18 international participants, and has sailed over 10,500 nautical miles in the last 84 days.

The Navy had stated that, in the GGR, participants are required to sail around the world, single-handed and non-stop.

The uniqueness of the race is that boat designs and technology newer than 1968 are not permitted, hence the use of the Global Positioning System (GPS), satellite communication and navigational aids are forbidden.

Participants have to reply over traditional means of navigation, looking at stars and using physical maps, as they sail through rough seas in the 30,000 mile journey. The sailors have a satellite phone to be used for medical emergencies only.

The Golden Globe Race is being conducted by Sir Robin Knox Johnston of the U.K. to commemorate 50 years of the world’s first solo non-stop circumnavigation undertaken by him in 1968 on-board the Indian-built boat, Suhaili.

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2020 9:46:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indian-navy-aircraft-locates-vessel-of-injured-naval-officer/article25020485.ece

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