Mumbai: Army officers battle with cyclone Ockhi for 7 hours

Dec 07, 2017, 18:39 IST | Asif Rizvi

Hit by the cyclone during sailing expedition from Mumbai to Goa, 20 Army officers make it safely to Ratnagiri harbour after fighting strong winds and choppy waters mid-sea

A group of 20 Indian Army officers who were on a sailing expedition to Goa braved and survived a seven-hour-long battle with choppy waters and strong winds, following a sudden strike of cyclone Ockhi in the Arabian sea, earlier this week. The officials were on an Army Offshore Sailing Expedition exercise and had left Mumbai on December 1 in four separate boats with five crew members each, when they were hit by the cyclone.

The yachts on the high seasThe yachts on the high seas

Recalling the horrifying experience, Captain Arpita Dwivedi said the conditions at sea were fine until December 2. However, around 4 am on December 3, the team suddenly noticed the cyclone swirling over the Mumbai-Ratnagiri coastline. "The waves were harmful and the winds were tough. It only kept getting worse," she said.

Captain Vikram SinghCaptain Vikram Singh

"Fortunately, we all have been trained to tackle extreme situations. The sailors helped us address all the challenges and reach the Ratnagiri harbour," she added.


The boats before the expeditionThe boats before the expedition

Expedition leader Lt Col Bhuwan Khare and the team sailed continuously for nearly seven hours, fighting heavy currents and billowing winds, coming in from the harbour. The wind speed had picked up to as high as 20 knots, and the swells in the sea had reached a maximum of two metres. "What mattered is that we did not lose hope. Instead of panicking, we took on the challenge, and utilised our training experience to the fullest," Captain Vikram Singh said.

Lt Amit SuhagLt Amit Suhag

Another crew member Lt. Amit Suhag said, "While the conditions were worrisome, it was a great learning experience for me. We all worked as a team, alerting and guiding each other about the wind movements to reach base safely." The team left for Goa, which is the second leg of the expedition, this morning after conditions improved at sea.

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