Navy launches rescue mission to find stranded officer

Commander Abhilash Tommy. Twitter

Indian Navy has launched a mission to rescue Commander Abhilash Tommy who is stranded somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean after the mast of his sailboat was snapped in rough weather and he became immobile with a back injury.

Tommy was representing India in the Golden Globe Race in the indigenous sailing vessel Thuriya.

Flagged off on July 1, it is a solo circumnavigation race around the world without the help of any modern navigational aid.

“He (Tommy) is in the south Indian Ocean, approximately 1,900 nautical miles from Perth, Australia and 2,700 nautical miles (approximately 5,020 km) from Cape Comorin (Kanyakumari). Indian Navy stealth frigate INS Satpura with a Chetak helicopter and tanker INS Jyoti that were operating in the Indian Ocean were dispatched for the rescue mission,” a Navy spokesperson said in New Delhi on Saturday.

The boat, Thuriya, was dismasted in an extremely rough weather and sea condition, with wind speeds of 130 kmph and 10 m high waves.

In his last message via satellite phone, Tommy indicated he is safe in the boat, but immobile due to back injury,” he said.

The Australian Rescue Coordination Centre at Canberra is coordinating the mission and Australian warships too joined the search operation. 

The 30,000 nautical mile Golden Globe Race (GGR) 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.

There were 18 skippers at the start line and Cdr Tommy of the Indian Navy was a special invitee. On Saturday, 11 participants were left in the race, out of which Tommy was at number 3 position. He sailed 10,500 nautical miles in the last 84 days.

The biggest challenge at the GGR is to have equipment, tools and boat which resemble the ones used by Sir Johntson, despite the change in technology.

Navigation will have to be done looking at celestial objects using physical maps. Communication with the outside world will also be limited as the lone satellite phone is for use in medical emergency alone.

Starting from Les Sables d'Olonne harbor in France, skippers went south till Cape of Good Hope and continued sailing eastward in the southern hemisphere to pass the international dateline. They will have to pass Cape of Horn to start sailing north in the Atlantic Ocean for the final leg.

Cdr Tomy had first circumnavigated the globe in 2012-13, becoming the first Indian to achieve the feat by sailing for 151 days in INS Mhadei.

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Navy launches rescue mission to find stranded officer

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