A Rescue to Remember

By Capt. Rajesh Kumar Todiwan, Master, MT Bow Neon | March 17, 2023


I have sailed on parcel chemical tankers right from the beginning of my career and I understand the risks of the job and the responsibilities that come with it. I have also experienced many adventures and misadventures over the years. The sea has taught me so much, I feel a seafarer discovers himself while he is at sea. I have been fortunate to be of assistance to men and animals being a part of some rescue operations. In some cases, I had to take quick decisions. I remember in 2011 it took us over 8 hours to look for men that were onboard a small pleasure craft but as they say all’s well that ends well. My team and I  felt a deep sense of gratitude. That’s where I developed an interest in the spirit and hope that human beings display. People are truly powerhouses of possibilities!

Equally powerful is the sea, it holds some of the deepest secrets and has enchanting stories. Each seafarer has his own version of these tales – some inspiring, some thought-provoking, some scary but none that are boring!

At Thome, we are committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship. We are dedicated to reducing the impact of our operations on the environment around us and adopting a zero-tolerance policy towards all cases of infringement of applicable environmental laws. Thome is acutely aware of the potential impacts of our business operations on the marine environment and ecology around us. As such, we actively work towards reducing such environmental impact by implementing strong environmental governance and compliance.

This incident is from MT Wawasan Bluefin, where we rescued a turtle that was about 30 kg. Have read that sea turtles are the only reptiles that migrate long distances to lay their eggs on a favourable beach. Also know that they are hunted for their meat, shells, or for use in medicines. They often get killed accidentally trapped in fishing nets as by-catch. Their habitats around the world are getting destroyed and some species are on the verge of extinction. This rescue thus becomes special. Sharing it here for two reasons – one is to archive the moments and the second one is a tribute to the sea that provides for all and has done that ever since mankind thrived.

It was on 22nd October 2021 we were sailing in the Bay of Bengal going towards Indonesia just then we saw a fishing net floating. It looked as if there was something caught in it but didn’t see anything clearly also we couldn’t stop the vessel at that time. After going past that area we were on course. Just then I looked behind and felt the instinct that told me we should check the net and ensure that nothing is trapped in it. We turned the vessel and came towards the net; we noticed that there was a turtle trapped in it.

We stopped the vessel as we wanted to rescue the turtle. How could we leave a living being trapped? Chief Officer Mitesh Lama and third officer Allwyn Joseph volunteered to get into the preparation to bring up the turtle that was 95% entrapped in the net. They lowered the cargo net and hook into the sea and had the others cheering for them, rooting for the new friend that needed our help. The net was brought to the deck and it was shredded to pieces gifting the ‘freedom’ to the lucky turtle. There was so much joy and instant cheering on the deck. Everyone joined in the little celebration of ‘the good turn’ that we did for the day. All crew onboard clicked pictures to preserve the moment and revisit the nostalgia later.

The turtle was put back into the sea and we saw it making its way happily back to where it belonged. The vessel then set sail again catching on its course. This incident true to the sustainability initiatives of Thome highlights our responsibility towards the environment and to other living beings. We need to protect the environment and save lives; a small effort towards conservation and sustainability. This might be a drop in the ocean but drops ultimately make the ocean!

“To me, the sea is a continual miracle; The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the ships, with men in them, What stranger miracles are there?” ~Walt Whitman


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