“Menon, Master of the oil products tanker Sampurna Swarajya, is to receive the 2016 International Maritime Organisation Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea for her role in the dramatic rescue of seven fishermen from a sinking fishing boat in tumultuous seas in the Bay of Bengal in June last year,” Shipping Ministry said in a statement.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is the United Nations specialised agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
“Captain Menon was nominated by the Government of India, for the rescue of all seven fishermen from the fishing boat Durgamma, which was adrift following engine failure and loss of anchor in severe weather,” the statement said.
Food and water had been washed away and they were surviving on ice from the cold storage.
The IMO Council, meeting for its 116th session in London, endorsed the decision of a panel of Judges that Captain Menon displayed great determination and courage in leading the difficult rescue operation, the statement said.
“Through wave heights of more than 25 feet, winds of more than 60 knots and heavy rain, on 22 June, the second officer on the Sampurna Swarajya spotted the boat 2.5 kilometres away, off the coast of Gopalpur, Odisha. Captain Menon immediately ordered a rescue operation, utilising the pilot ladder and with life jackets and buoys on standby,” it added.
It took three arduous attempts in the lashing wind and rain and heavy swells before all seven weak and starving fishermen, aged from 15 to 50 years old, were brought to safety on board the ship.
Captain Menon is the first woman captain in the Indian Merchant Navy and will be the first woman to receive the IMO Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea.
The Awards ceremony is expected to take place at IMO Headquarters on November 21 at the end of the first day of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC).
This annual Award was established by IMO to provide international recognition for those who, at the risk of losing their own life, perform acts of exceptional bravery, displaying outstanding courage in attempting to save life at sea or in attempting to prevent or mitigate damage to the marine environment.