New Delhi: Hindustan Aeronautics Limited's (HAL) indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv and Chetak helicopters have been pressed into service to rescue people and extricate skimmed oil from the cargo ship MV Wakashio. The ship was on its way from China to Brazil but ran aground on the reef at Pointe d’Esny, Mauritius on July 25. By August 6 the Japanese-owned ship started to spill oil from its fuel tank, leading Mauritian authorities to declare an environmental emergency. While Mauritius grapples with the worst environmental crisis in a generation, the HAL ALH Dhruv and Chetak are flying non-stop in rescue operations. Commenting on the capabilities of HAL's ALH Dhruv and Chetak, CMD R Madhavan said, “Time and again the indigenous Dhruv helicopter has proven its capabilities. Our helicopters were extensively utilized for search and rescue operations in the past as well.”
The Indian Air Force, Indian Coast Guards and Mauritius police flew HAL helicopters non-stop dawn to dusk till all the survivors on board were safely rescued, during the operations that begun last week. A total of 210 cargo operations and 270 winch operations were undertaken by HAL choppers towards salvage and rescue missions so far. The Chetak helicopters were used primarily for winching survivors. The ALHs flew continuous missions to get the international salvage team on-board the ship to contain the spill. The HAL made helicopters have flown till now 110 hrs and rescued 600 persons from and to MV Wakasio.
The spill that is said to be worst in decades in Mauritius is close to two environmentally protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park reserve. Nearby are a number of popular tourist beaches and mangrove plantations. Mauritius had declared a state of environmental emergency. A crack inside the hull of the ship expanded earlier this week leading to the ship splitting into two halves.
Dhruv is indigenously designed and developed by HAL for the military as well as civil applications. The utility version of the Dhruv helicopter can be used for VIP travel, commuter, search and rescue, emergency medical service, underslung load, disaster relief, and offshore operations. Dhruv helicopter is suitable for increased payload at higher altitudes and is in operation with all the three Service wings. More than 240 helicopters are operational with the Indian Armed Forces clocking more than 2,70,000 flying hours.
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