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HAL’s indigenous Advanced Light Helicopters, the Dhruv and Chetak helicopters, are being pressed into service to rescue people and extricate skimmed oil from the Japanese owned 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 recently.
“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,” said R. Madhavan, chairman and managing director, HAL.
Thanks to the Indian Air Force, Indian Coast Guard and Mauritius police, HAL helicopters flew non-stop dawn to dusk till all the survivors on board were safely rescued. 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 onboard the ship to contain the spill. The HAL made helicopters have now flown 110 hours and rescued 600 persons to and from MV Wakasio.
The spill 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, under slung load, disaster relief, and offshore operations. The 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 270,000 flying hours