Captain Radhika Menon became the first woman in the world to receive the Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea for the year 2016 from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). She received the award for saving the lives of seven fishermen, whose hopes of survival were all but over. Five years ago, she became the first woman to become captain of Indian Merchant Navy.
The award will be presented to her at the ceremony set to take place at IMO Headquarters in London on 21 November 2016. She was chosen by 116th session of IMO Council meeting held in London.
Captain Menon had displayed great determination and courage in leading the difficult rescue operation in the Bay of Bengal in June 2015. Caught in a storm and with its engine having failed, fishing boat 'Durgamma' had drifted from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh all the way to Gopalpur in Odisha when it was spotted by Menon's team in June last year. The fishermen's families had believed them to be lost at sea and were preparing for their last rites when they received calls about their miraculous rescue.
The lady Captain rescued all seven fishermen from the fishing boat, and for this bravery she was bestowed with the award by the International Maritime Organisation.
"I am humbled, honoured and grateful", said Menon, adding, "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".
A native of Kodungallur in Kerala, Menon was at the helm of oil tanker 'Sampurna Swarajya' of Shipping Corporation of India (SCI). In 2011, she had made history by becoming the first woman to be the captain of Indian Merchant Navy. In 2012, she took charge of MT Suvarna Swarajya.
Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea is an annual Award established by the IMO. It seeks to provide international recognition for those who perform acts of exceptional bravery at the risk of even losing their own life.