The Indian Navy's search teams may have found the wreckage of a surveillance plane that plunged into the Arabian Sea 25 nautical miles southwest of Goa late Tuesday night.
Hydrographic vessel INS Makar — one of the 12 ships carrying out search and rescue operations - on Thursday detected a "large metallic object" on the seabed using its side scan sonar, possibly the crashed Dornier's fuselage. The suspected wreckage is at a depth of 50-60 metres.
Naval divers on board INS Matanga were all set to scour the seabed to inspect the wreckage from the crashed plane, a navy officer said. However, there is still no sign of the two missing naval aviators - sub-lieutenant Abhinav Nagori, the co-pilot, and lieutenant Kiran Shekhawat, observer (navigator).
The India-made Dornier-228 - the first to crash since the planes were inducted in the navy in the early 1990s - took off from Hansa naval air station at 6.30pm on a training sortie and lost radar contact at 10.08pm.
Its pilot, Commander Nikhil Kuldip Joshi - a seasoned hand with more than 4,000 flying hours - miraculously survived the crash and was picked up an hour later by a fishing boat 10 nautical miles from the location where the plane lost contact. The fishermen alerted the navy by dialling a toll-free distress number that was introduced to strengthen coastal security after the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes.
This is the first naval crash with a female officer on board. Lt Shekhawat, who is married to a naval officer, was part of the navy's all-woman marching contingent at the Republic Day parade.