New Delhi [India], July 11 (ANI): The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has recognised the exceptional bravery and courage of Indian seafarers in its 2024 awards for Bravery at Sea.

The IMO Council, in its proceedings on July 10, 2024, has honoured Captain Avhilash Rawat and the crew of the oil tanker Marlin Luanda for their extraordinary bravery, leadership, and determination.

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The crew's efforts, along with the crucial support from assisting naval forces, were pivotal in ensuring the safety of the crew, saving the ship, and preventing a potential environmental disaster, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways said in a press release.

Additionally, Captain Brijesh Nambiar and the crew of the Indian Naval Ship INS Visakhapatnam have been awarded a Letter of Commendation for their remarkable courage and resolve in joining the fire-fighting efforts on board the Marlin Luanda. The ship was struck by an anti-ship ballistic missile while carrying highly hazardous cargo. Their effective use of equipment and personnel to extinguish the fire and seal a significant hull breach prevented loss of life and a serious marine pollution incident.

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On January 26, 2024, the Marlin Luanda, carrying 84,147 tons of naphtha, was struck by an anti-ship missile en route from Suez to Incheon. The explosion ignited a cargo tank, creating a severe fire hazard. Captain Avhilash Rawat organised firefighting efforts, ensuring crew safety and maintaining the ship's navigability. Despite significant damage, the crew fought the fire with foam monitors and seawater, the release added.

After four and a half hours, assistance arrived from the merchant tanker Achilles, French frigate FS Alsace, U.S. frigate USS Carney, and Indian warship INS Visakhapatnam. Despite the fire reigniting, trained Indian Navy firefighters, along with the Marlin Luanda crew, extinguished the fire and sealed a hull breach. Twenty-four hours after the strike, the Marlin Luanda sailed to safety under naval escort.

Union Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, Sarbananda Sonowal, expressed pride and appreciation for the honored seafarers and Indian Navy, stating, "This recognition by the IMO highlights the extraordinary bravery and professionalism of Indian seafarers. Their actions have not only saved lives and prevented environmental disasters but have also brought immense pride to our nation. We salute their dedication and heroism," it also said.

It is to be noted, the IMO invites nominations annually from member countries to honor seafarers for exceptional bravery at sea. This year, nominations were received until April 15, 2024, and were first scrutinised by an Assessment Panel of experts. The panel's recommendations were then reviewed by a Panel of Judges chaired by the Chairperson of the IMO Council. The final recommendations were reported to the Council of IMO, leading to the prestigious recognitions bestowed on the Indian seafarers.

The annual awards ceremony will be held at IMO Headquarters in London on 2 December 2024 during the 109th session of the Maritime Security Committee, the release also said. (ANI)

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