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Brave Indian Captain And Crew Honoured For Heroic Red Sea Rescue During Houthi Attack – News18



News18

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London, United Kingdom (UK)

The recommendations of the Panel of Judges have now been endorsed by the IMO Council, meeting for its 132nd session being held in London this week.

The recommendations of the Panel of Judges have now been endorsed by the IMO Council, meeting for its 132nd session being held in London this week.

Captain Avhilash Rawat and his crew win IMO 2024 Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea for their courage during a Red Sea rescue mission

An Indian captain and his crew of an oil tanker have been named among the winners of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea for their courage shown in a Red Sea rescue mission.

Captain Avhilash Rawat and his crew were declared winners by the IMO on Wednesday for the “determination” shown while coordinating firefighting and damage control efforts to combat a fire that broke out after a missile fired by Houthi rebels struck their vessel ‘Marlin Luanda’ earlier this year.

What happened on the evening of Jan 26?

In January, the Marshall Islands-flagged Marlin Luanda issued a distress call and reported damage. (Image: SOURCED)

“On the evening of 26 January 2024, the Marlin Luanda, carrying 84,147 tonnes of Naphtha, was en route from Suez to Incheon when it was struck by an anti-ship ballistic missile. The explosion ignited a cargo tank, creating a significant fire hazard with flames exceeding 5 meters,” reads the award citation.

“Despite the damage, Captain Avhilash Rawat swiftly organised firefighting efforts, ensuring the crew’s safety and maintaining the ship’s navigability amidst the chaos. With the starboard lifeboat destroyed, the remaining crew mustered at the port lifeboat station, ready for potential evacuation,” it added.

Despite the extreme danger and the constant threat of further attacks, Rawat and his crew fought the fire using fixed foam monitors and portable hoses. The fire continued to spread, particularly affecting an adjacent tank, but the crew managed to contain it using seawater after foam supplies were exhausted.

Four and a half hours fighting

After four and a half hours fighting the fire on their own, assistance arrived from the merchant tanker Achilles and later from the French frigate FS Alsace and the United States frigate USS Carney, which provided additional firefighting foam and support, followed soon after by the Indian warship INS Visakhapatnam. Despite relentless efforts by the Marlin Luanda crew, the fire reignited multiple times. The situation remained critical, and expert consultations suggested abandoning the vessel.

However, Captain Rawat and his crew persisted. The turning point came when professionally trained firefighters from the Indian Navy boarded the ship. They managed to get closer to the fire due to their superior equipment, and their efforts, combined with those of the Marlin Luanda crew, finally succeeded in extinguishing the fire and sealing a significant hull breach. “Twenty-four hours after the missile strike, the Marlin Luanda sailed to safety under naval escort,” the IMO noted.

Captain Rawat and his crew were nominated for the award by the Marshall Islands. Meanwhile, Captain Brijesh Nambiar and the crew of the Indian Navy ship INS Visakhapatnam have been conferred a Letter of Commendation for their support to the oil tanker when in distress. The awards will be given at the annual ceremony at the IMO Headquarters in London on December 2.

(With agency inputs)



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