Gallantry Awards to Navy 2017, Rakesh Kumar: On 10 Jun 16, Rakesh Kumar, Hull Artificer 4, 502230-H 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 in Cofferdam 9K6, whose horizontal dimensions measure 2.1m X 0.76m. 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.
It is evident from the act of the sailor that he with scant regard to his personal safety ventured into the congested cofferdam seeing a civilian worker shouting in semi-conscious state. The sailor was completely aware that the presence of dangerous and poisonous gases in the congested enclosed space will endanger the lives of the civilians working there. Even a moment’s delay would cause the civilians to lose their lives. Realising this, sailor rushed to the space and lifted the first civilian on his shoulder and climbed up the ladder and saved him.
Thereafter, though the sailor was exhausted, showing rare grit of courage and valour he ventured into the congested space infested with the poisonous gases to save the second civilian. Whilst continuing his vain but valiant efforts, Rakesh Kumar, Hull Artificer 4 succumbed to the toxic gas inhalation. This feat of exemplary courage by the sailor, in saving the civilians working in the enclosed and congested space infested with the deadly poisonous gases of H2S with scant regard to the safety of his own life is an act worthy of recognition and is in keeping with the highest traditions of the Service, and therefore, (Late) Rakesh Kumar, Hull Artificer 4 is awarded Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry) (Posthumously).
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