Cyclone cripples eastern naval command

Cyclone cripples eastern naval command

Cyclone cripples eastern naval command

Cyclone Hudhud has crippled the flying facilities from India’s eastern naval command at Visakhapatnam and also killed a young sailor on the line of duty.

As navigational instruments were damaged heavily, only visual flying is allowed at the naval air station INS Dega at the moment. It means Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have to touch down and take off before the sunset if the instrumental systems are not up by Tuesday morning. Efforts are on in a war-footing to revive at least some of the navigational aids so that the VIP jet can land with relative ease.

Sailor dies

The maritime force suffered a casualty. Subham Sawant, 20, a member of the naval rescue team, was out on the road when a flying object hit him in the back, breaking his spinal cord. The young sailor died at the naval hospital, about an hour after Hudhud struck the port city.

The cyclone flooded the airfield at INS Dega besides damaging all buildings at the airfield. A day later,both runways have been made fit for day-time flying operations.

On Monday, naval and civilian choppers, including that of Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu as well as Naval Dorniers and Indian Air Force's AN- 32 aircraft, flew in and out of Visakhapatnam relying on the pilots’ visual flying skills.

Close to 50 ships and submarines, including three Shivalik class indigenous stealth frigates and nuclear powered submarine Arihant and INS Chakra, were docked at the harbour of the Eastern naval command when the gale hit the port. The ships were safe, said a Navy officer.

Several hangers lost their roof tops, exposing the aircraft, while many buildings bore the brunt of the nature’s fury as seen from the broken window panes and shattered construction.

The Navy’s maritime surveillance aircraft P8I and IAF’s C-130 J Super Hercules carried out reconnaissance flights to check overall damage to India’s biggest military base on the East Coast, which is tasked to take care of threats from eastern sea board.

The base does not have any electricity due to damage to transmission lines and the back up system has not been switched on due to the fear of electrocution. About 60 per cent of trees in the naval Area were uprooted and almost all roads were blocked.

The communication links, too, have been severely affected as most of the BSNL lines, GSAT-7 (Rukmini) and INMARSAT links, were not operational. However, communication with Maritime Operations Centre, Vishakhapatnam has been established with Communication Centre, Delhi.

A detailed stock taking would take place at the Naval commander’s conference in Delhi on Tuesday. IAF commanders conference would also start on the same day, whereas Army commanders’ conference began on Monday.