Indian Navy aircraft locates vessel of Abhilash Tomy

Indian Navy aircraft locates vessel of Abhilash Tomy

An Indian Navy aircraft has located the vessel of Indian Naval officer Abhilash Tomy, who was badly injured while participating in the Golden Globe Race, "rolling excessively" in the South Indian Ocean, a Defence spokesman said on Sunday. AFP photo

After nearly three days, a French ship on Monday is likely to pick up the stranded Indian Navy officer Abhilash Tomy, who is floating in an incapacitated condition in his sail boat Thuriya somewhere in the middle of southern Indian Ocean.

“Tomy shall be picked up in the next 16 hours by French vessel Osiris. Subsequently, he will be transferred to the Australian naval ship HMAS Ballarat, which has left Perth to bring him,” an Indian Navy spokesperson said here on Sunday.

The French ship, a fishing patrol vessel, is equipped with a medical officer, a stretcher and an infirmary with a medical bed. Tomy requested for a stretcher as he received injury on his back and unable to move.

On Sunday, an Indian Navy P8I maritime surveillance aircraft made a visual contact with the sail boat, whose mast was broken by the rough weather. Tomy received injury on the back and lying on the bunk in the sea without many options.

After the initial burst of communication seeking help, he could not convey much to the rescue team with his VHF radio batteries becoming dead. The boat is under constant watch by the surveillance planes of India and Australia.

Tomy was representing India in the Golden Globe Race in the sailing vessel Thuriya. Flagged off on July 1 from a French harbour, it is a solo circumnavigation race around the world without the help of any modern navigational aid.

Two Indian Navy ships, frigate INS Satpura and tanker INS Jyothi are on their way to the southern Indian Ocean where Tomy is currently located. The earliest arrival of INS Satpura that left Cape Town on Saturday is expected around Friday (Sept 28).

The Indian Naval Defence Attache in Australia was camping in regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre at Melbourne to keep a watch on the rescue operation. 

Turbulent seas (sea state 4/5) with heavy clouds surrounding the area and waves 10-12 ft high with continuous rainfall would make the rescue operation a challenging one, sources said. The boat mast is seen broken and hanging on the side of the boat.

The 30,000 nautical mile Golden Globe Race is being held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of such a race held for the first and last time, which saw Sir Robin Knox-Johnston successfully completing the voyage in 312 days, to become the first human to finish solo, unassisted and non-stop circumnavigation of the world.

This was Tomy's second solo circumnavigation trip.


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