Captain Radhika Menon
She is the first woman ever and the first woman captain in the Indian Merchant Navy to be awarded the International Maritime Organisation Award for Exceptional Bravery at Sea. This is for Menon’s role in the rescue of seven fishermen from a sinking fishing boat in June last year. After engine failure and loss of anchor because of harsh weather, the fishing boat ‘Durgamma’ was caught in a storm. It had drifted from Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to Gopalpur in Odisha and the seven fishermen onboard were surviving on ice from the cold storage because their food supplies had been washed away. They had lost all hope of rescue when the second officer on the oil tanker Sampurna Swarajya spotted them. Through wave heights of more than 25 feet, winds of more than 60 knots and heavy rain, Menon led a rescue operation. A resident Kodungallur in Kerala, Menon became the first woman to captain a ship of the Indian Merchant Navy five years ago. She did a one-and-a-half year radio course at the All India Marine College in Kochi before becoming a radio officer in the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), the first woman to do so in India.