INS Kochi and INS Kolkata, which were spearheading the search and rescue operation along with a private vessel, Energy star, are now being supported by naval ships Beas, Betwa and Teg. The operation has been reinforced with deployment of long distance reconnaissance aircraft P-8I’s and naval helicopters.
P-305 being an accommodation barge had no engine to power it, and it hit one the oil rigs in the vicinity and there was ingress of water which saw the barge capsize on Monday night. What otherwise would have been a normal rescue operation, where life boats would be launched to rescue people, the wind speed and the sea swell because of the cyclone rendered such an operation nearly impossible.
Vice Admiral MS Pawar, deputy chief of Naval staff, said, “This by far has been the most challenging operation I have seen in the last four decades. Four Indian ships have been battling challenging weather conditions for the last 20 hours to rescue the people.”
The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard, in a coordinated effort, also rescued all the 137 people on board Barge ‘GAL Constructor’ which too was adrift after it broke away from its moorings.