New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) Two naval personnel, who made the supreme sacrifice while saving the lives of their fellow sailors, were today awarded gallantry medals posthumously. Also Read - Indian Navy Prepared To Defeat Every Threat of Terrorism at Sea or From Sea: Vice Admiral MS Pawar
Ashu Singh, Chief Mechanical Engineer, was awarded Shaurya Chakra posthumously while Rakesh Kumar, Hull Artificer was awarded Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry) posthumously. Also Read - Operation Samudera Setu to Repatriate Indians From Maldives | All You Need to Know
On March 6 last year, an incident of deck head lagging fire accompanied with heavy smouldering occurred in the ‘B’ Boiler Room of INS Viraat. Also Read - Indian Armed Forces to Conduct Fly Pasts to Thank COVID-19 Warriors; PM Modi Welcomes Decision
The sailor showed exemplary courage and presence of mind in safeguarding machinery by taking correct procedural step in crash stopping B1 boiler which was last in use and securing other machinery in the vicinity, a Navy statement said.
He took lead role in successfully fighting the fire relentlessly for 35 minutes with all other watch keepers and Standing Sea Fire Party (SSFP) in the extreme harsh conditions with intense heat and heavy smoke without thinking about his own safety thereby averting a major disaster.
He also safeguarded the life of other fire fighters by guiding them to evacuate boiler room in time.
In the process the sailor, undeterred and unmindful of his own life, safeguarded the life of men and propulsion machinery of the aircraft carrier, displaying conspicuous gallantry, exemplary leadership and presented an example of “Service before Self”.
Rakesh Kumar, Hull Artificer 4 of INS Vikramaditya, was part of the team assigned the task of overseeing fitment of a newly fabricated 1.2 m piece of Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) pipe by two civilian contract-workers.
The sailor was assigned the task of connecting and supervising the operation of a submersible pump and was positioned in the Power Generation Room (PGR), one deck above the compartment containing the Cofferdam, with access to the Cofferdam being only through a long vertical ladder that led down from a narrow hatch.
During the pipe-replacement process, the sailor heard someone shouting from the compartment below and saw a civilian emerging from it in a semi-conscious state.
The sailor went down the ladder, picked up the civilian on his shoulder and climbed up the vertical ladder to the PGR, laying him down under an AC vent. He then learnt that the other civilian was also unconscious in the Cofferdam.
Without any thought to his own safety, the sailor clambered down the vertical ladder again and with no hesitation entered the Cofferdam where he saw his team leader wearing an Emergency Life saving Apparatus (ELSA) set and trying to pick up the civilian worker, who was lying prone in the well of the Cofferdam, partly covered with water.
Rakesh, with all his strength, tried to lift the second civilian, but was unable to do so as his clothes were slippery and entangled with deck fittings in the narrow space.
Despite knowing the dangers of the probable presence in the space of toxic gas and its consequences, Rakesh did not relent in his efforts and continued trying to bodily lift the civilian out of the Cofferdam in the hope of saving his life.
He, however, lost track of time, and whilst continuing his vain but valiant efforts, also succumbed to the toxic gas inhalation and collapsed inside the Cofferdam.
He was extricated from the compartment by a rescue team a few minutes later, but was unfortunately declared dead in the hospital, the Navy said.
He has been awarded Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry) posthumously.
Lt Cdr Neeraj Kumar was awarded Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry) for technical and seamanship skills as well as sheer guts displayed by him which ensured successful rescue of a merchant vessel in distress at sea and saved the lives of all 14 seamen of Indian nationality.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.