Rescued Navy Commander Abhilash Tomy is ‘doing ok’, says defence minister
Commander Abhilash Tomy of the Indian Navy, who was injured and his boat wrecked in a massive storm in the south Indian Ocean while on his second circumnavigation of the globe, was rescued by a French naval vessel on Monday.
Tomy is “doing okay” and the French vessel will shift him to a nearby island, said Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Twitter.
He is conscious but tired and dehydrated, said the officer’s father, PC Tomy, in Kochi.
Tomy was representing India during the Golden Globe Race 2018 but his indigenously-built ‘Thurayi’ boat lost its mast after being caught in the storm that whipped up 14-metre high waves. He also suffered a back injury that left him immobilised.
An Indian Navy P-8I aircraft operating from Mauritius had visually sighted ‘Thuriya’, which was “rolling excessively” in the turbulent sea, on Sunday morning approximately 1,900 nautical miles south-west from Australia’s Perth and about 2,700 nautical miles from Cape Comorin, the navy had said.
Tomy in his last text message had indicated that he was safe but immobile due to back injury.The 39-year-old navy officer has not had a drop of water since the injury and could not communicate with rescue planes as his marine VHF radio batteries are dead.
Continuous watch over the boat is being maintained by Indian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force aircraft till Tomy is rescued, the navy said.
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman had on Sunday night said that the rescue mission was being coordinated with the Australian Navy. “The injured officer shall be picked up in the next 16 hrs by a French vessel Osiris,” she had tweeted.
The Australian Rescue Coordination Centre at Canberra is coordinating the rescue mission in conjunction with several agencies including the Australian defence department, the navy said, adding it has dispatched stealth frigate -- INS Satpura with a Chetak helicopter and tanker INS Jyoti operating in the Indian Ocean -- for the mission.
Tomy became the first Indian to circumnavigate the globe onboard his boat Mhadei - solo, non-stop and unassisted - in 2013. He was awarded India’s second-highest peace-time gallantry award, Kirti Chakra, for the feat.
Among those praying for Tomy’s rescue was the all-woman crew of Indian Navy’s sailing vessel Tarini, which created history by circumnavigating the globe in a gruelling 254-day voyage.
“He imparted us hands-on training in Mumbai before we started sailing on the Mhadei…He has been an inspiration and hope for millions of Indians who dream big and want to achieve their goals,” said Tarini skipper Lieutenant Commander Vartika Joshi.