The Indian Air Force carried out a rescue operation in the Bay of Bengal to help douse a major fire that had broken out onboard a merchant vessel. The mission saw the IAF use its helicopters to drop water on the fire to put it out.
The IAF responded to a call for help from the merchant vessel MV SSL Kolkata. The ship was off the shore of the Sunderbans in West Bengal. A fire onboard the ship had grown into a major one.
An IAF Mil Mi-17 helicopter took off from the helipad at the Frazergunj Harbour and spotted the burning ship. The chopper assessed the wind patterns and used a helicopter bucket to drop water on the fire.
The IAF has said it made six water runs with the chopper and dropped 15000 litres of water on the fire to bring it under control.
#SavingLives : The crew displayed great professionalism & dropped the water with pin point accuracy over the exact location of fire. The operations by IAF Mi-17 V5 Helicopter controlled the massive fire & fully doused it within a short period of time.#RescueAtAnyCost pic.twitter.com/sKmbhVcV0C
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) June 18, 2018
"The crew displayed great professionalism and dropped the water with pin point accuracy over the exact location of fire. The operations by IAF Mi-17 V5 Helicopter controlled the massive fire and fully doused it within a short period of time," read a post on social media by the IAF.
The Mil Mi-17 is a medium lift transport helicopter that is among the mainstays of the Indian Air Force. The Russian machine has been used by the IAF in a number of scenarios, including multiple rescue operations like the 2013 Uttarakhand flash floods and the 2014 Kashmir floods among others.
The IAF usually uses the Mi-17s for airlifting stranded people or to airdrop food and other aid materials to affected areas. It has also been used in combat scenarios, most notably during the Kargil conflict. The IAF had suspended helicopter operations after an Mi-17 was shot down, and had brought its fighter jets into play.