Stranded Indian Navy officer rescued by French ship

Monday, 24 Sep, 2018

Tomy's vessel was located in the South Indian Ocean, about 1,900 nautical miles (3,518 km) from Perth in Australia. Participants in the 2018 Golden Globe race are required to sail out alone in a yacht from the French town of Les Sables-d'Olonne and cover some 30,000 miles (48,280 kilometers) in a monthslong attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

Indian Navy officer Abhilash Tomy, adrift thousands of kilometres from dry land with a serious back injury was safely rescued from his stricken yacht Monday after a carefully-coordinated global effort.

Multinational rescue efforts were immediately launched to save him, but Tomy's 36-foot boat, Thuriya, one of several hit by 80 miles per hour winds and 46-foot seas midway across the South Indian Ocean, was "at the extreme limit of immediate rescue range", according to race organizers.

Continuous watch over the boat is being maintained by Indian Navy and RAAF aircraft till rescue is completed.

"The tricky weather conditions are adding to the hurdles", he said.

Australian Rescue Coordination Centre at Canberra coordinated the rescue mission in cooperation with many agencies, including the Australian Defence Department and the Indian Navy.

The yacht used by Abhilash Tomy is a replica of the vessel used by famous British sailor Robin Knox Johnston to win the first Golden Globe race in 1969.

His vessel, SV Thuriya, is stuck in a remote location in the southern Indian Ocean.

"INS Satpura and INS Jyoti are heading at top speed to reach Tomy", the SpokespersonNavy said.

Irish sailor Gregor McGuckin - Tomy's fellow Golden Globe Race contestant - and the French fisheries patrol boat are likely to be the first ones to make contact with Tomy. On Sunday, he managed to get in touch with the organisers of the race in France through messages and requested for help as he could not move on his own.

Despite the nearness of the French ship, Gaden had cautioned that rescuers might not be able to evacuate Tomy because of the damage to his yacht, in which case an Australian naval boat, positioned further away, might have had to undertake the rescue.

He is conscious but exhausted and dehydrated, said the officer's father, PC Tomy, in Kochi.

Competitors started from France on 1 July; seven boats have so far withdrawn from the race. They are also banned from using modern technology such as Global Positioning System and mobile phones.

Commander Abhilash Tomy KC was part of the race when his yacht was dismasted and he suffered severe back injury.