Captain Radhika Menon becomes the first woman to receive the award for Exceptional Bravery at sea, challenging the stereotype that bravery is only associated with men.
In June last year, seven fishermen were on a fishing boat ‘Durgamma’ that was caught in a storm after enduring engine failure and loss of anchor. The boat had drifted from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to Gopalpur in Odisha. Their food supplies had been washed away and they were surviving on ice from cold storage.
While back home, their families were praying for a miracle to see their loved ones, these fishermen who were aged between 15 and 50 years had lost all hopes for survival.
Their ordeal came to an end when Radhika Menon, first woman Captain of Indian Merchant Navy spotted them.
Radhika Menon was at the helm of the oil tanker- Sampurna Swarajya and spotted the vessel 2.5 km away. “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 on standby,” said the Shipping Ministry in a statement.
The Government of India nominated Radhika Menon who became the first woman to receive the award for Exceptional Bravery at sea from the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in July.
The IMO award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea, instituted in 2007, is annually given to persons who perform acts of exceptional bravery and courage in attempting to save life at sea or in attempting to prevent or mitigate damage to the marine environment, often at a risk to their own lives.
Radhika Menon is a resident of Kodungallur in Kerala. Five years ago she became the first woman to captain a ship of the Indian Merchant Navy.
When asked about her exemplary courage in the rescue operation, Radhika said to the Times of India,“It is a maritime obligation to save souls in distress at sea and, as a seafarer and master in command of my ship, I just did my duty,”
While women have now shifted their roles from household chores to excelling in diverse professions and business, bravery is still not a virtue traditionally associated with women. There are superheroes who save lives but no super ‘heroines’. Radhika Menon has challenged this stereotype and set an example for women all over the world.
We felicitate and salute Radhika for her efforts and hope that this is just the beginning to many more super heroines from India!
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