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Lieutenant Bimal Ranjan Behera Shaurya Chakra: A Heroic Tale of Bravery in the Indian Navy

On March 6, 2023, an operational emergency at ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) necessitated the urgent assistance of the Indian Navy’s diving team. The Armada Sterling V, a critical...

On March 6, 2023, an operational emergency at ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) necessitated the urgent assistance of the Indian Navy’s diving team. The Armada Sterling V, a critical Fuel Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel deployed off Kakinada for a major offshore development project essential to the nation’s energy security, had to abruptly suspend operations due to the entanglement of fishing nets at the fuel extraction mechanism. Lieutenant Bimal Ranjan Behera was among the elite divers sent to address the situation.

Lieutenant Bimal Ranjan Behera

The mission required an exceptionally challenging underwater operation: a vertical dive of 18 feet to the bilge keel followed by a horizontal dive of 100 feet across the ship to reach the turret and restore functionality. The underwater conditions were perilous, characterized by complex underwater fitments, fierce currents, sharp barnacles, and the formidable presence of the vessel’s bulbous bow. Even a few feet of depth posed grave risks, making stabilization a significant challenge for the divers.

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Lieutenant Bimal Ranjan Behera stepped up fearlessly as the lead diver. At approximately 1000 hours on March 12, 2023, he commenced the dive, immediately confronting the brutal forces of the water that violently pushed him aft, leaving him breathless. Despite these harsh conditions, he gallantly fought against the powerful currents, descending 18 feet to reach the bilge keel.

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Without any respite, he continued his arduous journey. The turbulent waters swirled menacingly as he clung precariously to the bottom chain, hauling himself and the long umbilical line inch by painstaking inch. Displaying remarkable endurance, he successfully reached the turret area, traversing 100 feet across the ship. Despite complete exhaustion, Lieutenant Behera meticulously extricated the nets around the turret, clearing the bell mouths one by one.

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Recognizing the immense risks for another diver to undertake this task, Lieutenant Behera shouldered the bulk of the diving efforts himself. Throughout this grueling operation, he dived 16 times for a total of 552 minutes in two phases, negotiating the complex underwater fitments and enduring sharp cuts inflicted by barnacles. He cleared the nets around the turret with unwavering determination.

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Braving the whirlpools, Lieutenant Behera then dived to videograph under the turret, providing an accurate underwater picture. His efforts enabled the extrication of the complex fuel extraction equipment from the nets and facilitated the seamless installation of additional underwater fuel lines.

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Lieutenant Bimal Ranjan Behera’s selfless act of raw courage, performed with utter disregard for his personal safety, brought ONGC’s emergency to a successful resolution. His heroic actions went far beyond the call of duty, exemplifying the highest standards of bravery and dedication in the Indian Navy. For his extraordinary valor, Lieutenant Bimal Ranjan Behera is strongly recommended for the prestigious Shaurya Chakra.

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