Indian Navy Captain Is the First Woman To Win Top Bravery Award
She is India’s first female Indian Merchant Navy captain and now, Captain Radhika Menon has again created history by winning the prestigious International Maritime Organisation award for exceptional bravery. She is the first woman to ever win this top honour, which is conferred upon those who risk their own lives to save others.
In June 2015, Menon spearheaded a successful rescue operation and saved the lives of seven fishermen from a sinking boat during a tumultuous storm in the Bay of Bengal. She was nominated by the Indian government for “courage” and “great determination”.
“It is every seafarer’s and master’s solemn duty and obligation to save souls in distress at sea. I just did what a seafarer should do for a fellow soul in distress at sea. Yes, it was an instant decision, but not without assessing the risks involved. I just did my duty,” said Captain Radhika Menon after receiving the award.
The Rescue Operation
A fishing vessel – Durgamma – was adrift after its engine failed and was spotted off the coast in Gopalpur, Orissa.
Through wave heights of more than 25 feet, winds of more than 60 knots and heavy rain, the Sampurna Swarajya vessel, which Menon was in charge of, spotted the boat and jumped into action. She immediately ordered a rescue operation, utilising a pilot ladder, life jackets and buoys on standby.
It took three arduous attempts before all seven weak and starving fishermen, aged from 15 to 50 years old, were brought to safety on board the ship.
Rescued fisherman Dasari Danayya, speaking in his home town of Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, said that without Captain Menon, they would not be alive.
“We could do nothing except wipe the tears from our eyes. Madam appeared as a Goddess, and saved our lives,” he told The Shipping Corporation of India, in a video broadcast during the ceremony.
(With inputs from PTI)