An Indian Navy rescue aircraft was able to locate Commander Abhilash Tomy, the Indian Navy sailor who was seriously injured out at sea during the Golden Globe round-the-world race.
An Indian Navy P8i launched from Port Louis, Mauritius, at 2 am on Sunday was able to establish visual contact with Cdr Tomy’s yacht Thuriya in South Indian Ocean.
The Indian Navy said in a statement that the rescue aircraft found the Thuriya’s mast broken and hanging on the side. But rescuing Cdr Tomy remains a daunting task due to inclement weather conditions with waves of 10-12 feet rolling about.
A defence spokesperson said that Commander Tomy responded by ping on EPIRB as the aircraft was flying over him.
He said that all efforts are being made to rescue the Commander, who had suffered a back injury on Friday after his yacht was hit by a vicious storm with 14-metre-high waves.
“INS Satpura and INS Jyoti are heading at top speed to reach Tomy”, the spokesman said.
He said the situation was being monitored at Naval Headquarters in New Delhi, as well as by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre at Melbourne, Australia.
Australian Navy frigate HMAS Ballarat is on the way to reach Tomy, he said adding that Cdr Tomy’s position was relayed to JRCC Australia and the War room in New Delhi through INMARSAT.
The defence spokesperson said that Cdr Tomy can be rescued only by naval ships.
“HMAS Ballarat is on its way assist an injured solo yachtsman, approximately 1800 nautical miles off the WA coast. The sailor, an officer in the Indian Navy is understood to have suffered a serious back injury when his ten metre vessel, “Thuriya” was de-masted in extreme weather,” read a tweet posted by Royal Australian Navy.
HMAS Ballarat is on its way assist an injured solo yachtsman, approximately 1800 nautical miles off the WA coast. The sailor, an officer in the Indian Navy is understood to have suffered a serious back injury when his ten metre vessel, “Thuriya” was de-masted in extreme weather. pic.twitter.com/e5zgO6F7bj
— RoyalAustralianNavy (@Australian_Navy) September 23, 2018
The 39-year-old Commander is the first Indian to sail around the world in 2013. He is the only Indian participating in the race that involves 30,000 miles solo circumnavigation of the globe without modern technology except satellite communication. His vessel, the indigenously made SV Thuriya is about 1,900 nautical miles from Perth in Australia.
According to reports, his satellite phone is broken and he is currently communicating using a texting unit.
On Saturday, Cdr Tomy reportedly sent a message, saying, “Extremely difficult to walk, Might need stretcher, can’t walk, thanks safe inside the boat … Sat phone down.”
Before he got caught in rough weather, Cdr Tomy was in the third position in the race and had sailed over 10,500 nautical miles since the race started on 1 July.
Besides Cdr Tomy, bad weather also hit Ireland’s Gregor McGuckin and Dutchman Mark Slats. Both McGuckin and Slats reported they were safe.
According to reports, McGuckin has repaired is yacht and is racing to reach Cmdr Tomy who is 150 km away from his position.
(With inputs from agencies.)