Known for its valour and quick response, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has saved the lives of more than 50 Indian fishermen in the month of August in multiple rescue operations.
The ICG undertook a Search and Rescue (SAR) mission, approximately 88 nautical miles east of Nagapattinam, saving 14 precious lives. An Indian fishing boat ‘GN Sabari Vasan’ sailed from Tuticorin with 14 crew members and was drifting at sea since 4 August 2020 due to machinery breakdown. A merchant ship ‘MV Gas Ionian’ which was passing by, sighted the stranded vessel and relayed the information to Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre, Chennai. On receiving the information, Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Shaurya’ in that area was diverted to provide necessary assistance to the vessel. The fishing vessel which was observed to have machinery breakdown and damaged propeller, was dangerously drifting in view of the rough weather due to southwest monsoon.The crew sensed a sigh of relief upon sighting the coast guard ship. The fishing vessel was towed by the Coast Guard ship to the nearest fishing harbour, Nagapattinam for repairs. During this rescue mission, the Coast Guard officials were in constant communication with the boat owner and fisheries authorities.
Meanwhile, a Thane-registered fishing boat named ‘Dev Sandesh’ with 16 fishermen onboard was reported to be in distress about 70 km west of Arnala coast at Thane in Maharashtra. The boat was caught up in rough to very rough sea conditions and very high-speed winds prevailing at sea. The distress message of the stranded and distressed fishing boat was relayed to Coast Guard Mumbai Maritime Search & Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) by Yellow Gate police station on the evening of 4th August. The MRCC, Mumbai swung into action and after ascertaining the exact location of the distressed fishing boat at sea, activated the International Safety Net and continuously relayed the message on broadcast for all the ships in the area specially the transiting ships to render assistance to the boat in distress.
In the meantime, MRCC successfully identified an ‘Offshore Supply Vessel Greatship Asmi’ in vicinity of the distressed fishing boat while tracking the traffic at sea and diverted her for rescue operation. The distressed boat was taking water onboard due to flooding, owing to long swell and rough weather. Since the situation at sea was worsening due to prevailing rough weather conditions and high-speed winds, Coast Guard coordinated with another offshore support vessel Colonel SP Wahi in the vicinity and directed her to pick up all the distressed fishermen from the stranded fishing boat and rescue them safely onboard the ship. After six hours of continuous effort facing the rough sea, the 16 crew members were rescued and taken onboard. All the rescued fishermen are safe now.
Also, Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Samudra Pavak’ during routine patrol received a VHF call from IFB Harshad with 8 crew members regarding engine breakdown 36 NM southwest of Jakhau. In heavy sea state and strong winds, the ship proceeded to the position with best speed for accessing the situation. Fishing boat ‘Harshad’ reported non-starting of engine and sought assistance. Considering the inclement sea conditions, the boat was taken under tow and in the meanwhile another fishing boat ‘IFB Al Labbek’ with 7 crew members also contacted the ship on VHF for assistance viewing the fouling of the propeller with fishing nets 26 NM southwest of Jakhau. Accordingly, IFB Al Labbek was also taken on tow and both IFB were towed towards safety. Subsequently, IFB Harshad and IFB Al Labbek with 15 crew members were handed over to IFB Al Badri, arranged by owner for further towing assistance till Jakhau harbour.