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GALLANTRY MEDALS TO NAVAL PERSONNEL ON INDEPENDENCE DAY 2020

NOT TO BE PUBLISHED/BROADCAST/OR USED ON SOCIAL MEDIA BEFORE AUGUST 15, 2020, 0001 HRS

NAO SENA MEDAL (GALLANTRY)

CAPT MRIGANK SHEOKAND (05107-F)

The officer is one of the most experienced pilots of the MiG-29K fleet of the Indian Navy. He is a Qualified Flying Instructor with more than 2000 hours of total flying experience. On 16 Nov 19, the Officer faced an unprecedented grave emergency whilst airborne in MiG 676 wherein, his brave and selfless decisions in a span of a few seconds alone ensured the safety of numerous civilians lives on ground.  At about 1147 h, on 16 Nov 19, Capt Sheokand got airborne from Dabolim airport for a training mission with a trainee pilot in the front seat on controls. Whilst climbing and passing through 1200 feet height, MiG 676 suddenly encountered a huge flock of birds. The aircraft took multiple bird hits despite the pilot trying to avoid them, some of which ingested into both its engines resulting in instantaneous and simultaneous failures and fire on both engines. Capt Sheokand immediately took over controls from the trainee pilot and steered the aircraft to gain as much height as possible, whilst simultaneously declaring emergency on radio and trying his best to recover the aircraft. With a failed left engine and confirmed fire in right engine as well as on the aircraft accessory gearbox, the pilot realized that he had few seconds in air before it crashed below into the Zuari Oil Reserve and the heavily populated region of South Goa. The aircraft’s only other serviceable engine was on fire and actions as per Standard Operating Procedure necessitated the pilot to jettison all additional stores, which in this case was the full ventral fuel tank with 2000 Kg fuel, gain additional height and make an attempt to recover. If all this was not feasible, the only other alternative was to initiate an ejection to save himself and the trainee pilot.  However, Capt Sheokand realized the impending catastrophic ramifications of jettisoning the fully loaded fuel tank into the populated area below and allowing the uncontrolled aircraft to crash into the Zuari Oil reserve. In a calm and composed manner, the officer displayed exemplary presence of mind, superior clarity of thought and extreme selflessness, wherein, he assessed the situation in fraction of seconds and pointed the aircraft towards the only unpopulated barren land within the area before initiating the ejection to save the trainee and himself. The officer displayed outstanding professional/ superior flying skills and presence of mind in handling the emergency to prevent loss of the lives of numerous civilians and national property as well as initiating a safe ejection for himself and the trainee pilot. Capt Mrigank Sheokand, (05107-F) has been awarded Nao Sena Medal (Gallatry).

NAO SENA MEDAL (GALLANTRY)

CDR DHANUSH MENON (05556-A)

Cdr Dhanush Menon was deputed to Belagavi, Karnataka as the Naval Detachment Commander wef 08 Aug 19 for ‘Op Varsha Rahat’. Based on the information of two aged men being stranded atop a tree in the village of Haloli, one AU 704 (ALH) was airborne at 0730 h on 09 Aug 19. The information was however partial with an indicative area for search and a tin shed as an identifying feature somewhere near the tree. As Captain of the Aircraft, the officer undertook the highly challenging SAR mission on 09 Aug 19, in low visibility, torrential rain and amidst dangerous obstructions. The rescue site was completely inundated and in dangerous proximity (5 metres) to a high power transmission line and its pylons. The survivors had been stranded bereft of food and water for three days and were so exhausted that they were in no position to even approach the rescue basket by themselves. With turbulent river obviating chances of rescue by boat, air rescue was the only option to save the elders from the jaws of almost certain death. A standard rescue procedure with hover into wind would entail the tail rotor into high tension cables and out of sight of pilot. Rescue could be affected only by a cross wind hover which heavily degraded helicopter controllability and power margins. Isolated passing showers that rendered almost nil visibility and gusting winds of 25 knots only compounded the problems. With lives at stake, the Officer commenced rescue displaying selflessness and extra ordinary courage in face of clear and absolute danger. Standard hover height of 175 ft in gusting cross winds resulted in uncontrollable swing in the rescue basket rendering winching impossible. The Officer took the extremely dangerous decision to reduce hover height to 125 ft displaying courage and exceptional skill to maintain the aircraft at hover for 25 minutes only 15 feet clear of the hazardous obstructions and saving the lives of two souls in distress. Lowering the rescue basket at the tight spot (between the dangers of transmission tower, roof of the shed and the tree) called for exemplary situation awareness and alacrity for a precise rescue.  For his selfless actions in dire circumstances, Cdr Dhanush Menon (05556 A) has been awarded Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry).

 

NAO SENA MEDAL (GALLANTRY)

HARIDAS KUNDU, CHA (FD) 130956-B

Haridas Kundu, CHA (FD), an Aircrew Diver was deployed to Belagavi, Karnataka as part of the Naval Detachment wef 08 Aug 19 for ‘Op Varsha Rahat’. On 09 Aug 19, information of two aged men being stranded atop a tree in the village of Haloli was received. Consequently, one AU 704 (ALH) was airborne at 0730 h on 09 Aug 19 in which Haridas Kundu was the rescue diver. It was a highly challenging SAR mission with low visibility, torrential rain and turbulent river currentThe rescue site, inundated with water rising up to six feet, was in dangerous proximity (5 metres) to a high power transmission line and its pylons. The survivors had been stranded bereft of food and water for three days and were so exhausted that they were in no position to even approach the rescue basket by themselves. Despite dangerous conditions and regardless of his personal safety, Kundu insisted that he be winched down amidst the heavy flow of the river. Whilst being lowered, the rescue basket due to its swing in cross winds came in close proximity to the tree, pylon and the transmission tower, threatening a potentially fatal helicopter emergency. Showing exemplary presence of mind, amidst the heavy current that threatened to sweep him off the feet, he deftly cleared the basket from obstructions preventing a disaster.  Further, braving the raging current over six feet high, Kundu advanced to the barely alive survivors and rescued them from the jaws of almost certain death and safely settled them onto the rescue basket. Despite the extreme risk of getting swept away with the tumultuous current, Kundu opted to stay behind while the civilians were winched to safety. For his selfless actions in dire circumstances, Haridas Kundu, CHA (FD) 130956-B has been awarded Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry).

NAO SENA MEDAL (GALLANTRY)

NAVEEN KUMAR, LS (UW), 230889-Z

The sailor was a part of the team that eliminated terrorists during an operation in Kashmir. With his gallant action the sailor not only saved precious lives of own troops while upholding the highest traditions of Indian Navy but was also pivotal in successful execution of the operation. For, his selfless actions in dire circumstances, Naveen Kumar LS (UW) has been awarded Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry).

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