A Bridge Across Covid

The Indian Navy has deployed nine warships as part of its ‘Operation Samudra Setu-II’

As the country continues to reel under the Covid-19 mayhem, a new lot of medical supplies reached India from Kuwait on May 25 when INS Shardul ferried 1,200 Oxygen cylinders and 27 Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) cryogenic containers. INS Tarkash also reached Mumbai a day before with its second consignment, embarking 40 metric tonnes of LMO from Qatar; its first consignment arrived on May 12.

INS Trikand arrives with relief material
INS Trikand arrives with relief material

This comes as part of the ‘Operation Samudra Setu-II’ initiated by the Indian Navy to augment the supply of Liquid Medical Oxygen and associated medical equipment in the country from friendly foreign nations in the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia. All the three naval commands viz., Vishakhapatnam, Kochi, and Mumbai have been deployed to bring relief material from overseas.

In a message given to naval personnel during the ongoing operations, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh said the force needs to contribute in its ‘full might’ to alleviate the pandemic situation. “No one knows when the pandemic will end. But I can say, with utmost confidence that our courage, our determination, will never end. We will collectively rise as ‘Team Navy’ in this adversity, and do our best for the nation, for the navy, and our communities,” the Admiral said.

According to the ministry of defence, INS Talwar and INS Kolkata were the first two ships that were directed for the task to Bahrain and Kuwait respectively. INS Talwar brought its first batch delivering 27 tons liquid oxygen tanks to New Mangalore port, while INS Kolkata ferried 400 oxygen bottles and two 30 MT LMO containers on May 10.

INS Airavat, the ship with the largest consignment also docked at the Vishakhapatnam port the same day, unloading eight cryogenic oxygen tankers, 3,898 oxygen cylinders, 10,000 Rapid Antigen Kits and 450 PPE kits brought from Singapore. Following these, INS Tabar and INS Kochi reached New Mangalore on May 11, accompanying 100 MT LMO and 1400 Oxygen cylinders from Kuwait.

Mumbai too received its second shipment of LMO cryogenic containers transported by INS Trikand from Hamad Port, Qatar on May 23. These were the maiden voyages to transport French Liquid Containers to India. The shipments obtained from Qatar (INS Trikand & INS Tarkash) are part of the French Mission ‘Oxygen Solidarity Bridge’ to support India’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the oxygen tankers received with the Tarkash warship amongst other materials in its first consignment, were gifted by the Indian diaspora in Qatar.

INS Talwar arrives at the New Mangalore Port with relief material from Bahrain

“We have been working days and nights at the embassy, with the ministries, and with companies to provide assistance to India because we want to show solidarity,” said Emmanuel Lenain, the Ambassador of France to India. He further went on to say, “India helped us last year when hospitals in France were in dire need of medical drugs, and people of France remember that.” He also informed that this has been ‘the largest package that France has provided to any country since the beginning of Covid crisis.’

Meanwhile, INS Jalashwa, the last ship assigned for the purpose reached Vishakhapatnam on May 23, transporting 18 cryogenic oxygen tanks and other essential materials such as ventilators from Singapore and Brunei. These supplies will be handed over to government agencies in various states and NGOs.

The Indian Navy has taken numerous initiatives to handle the crisis. In addition to supplying relief materials from abroad, the naval dockyard of Visakhapatnam also launched ‘Oxygen on Wheels’ initiative to support state government efforts in the current oxygen crisis, especially for smaller hospitals. A plant was recently provided to Palasa Covid Care Centre in Andhra Pradesh. These oxygen plants can be easily connected to hospital’s piping system, thus feeding them directly.

The force also came up with ‘Oxygen Recycling system’ to assuage the existing oxygen shortages. The intention behind this invention is to extend the life of oxygen cylinders, based on the fact that only small amount of oxygen inhaled by the patient is actually absorbed by the lungs and the rest in exhaled in the atmosphere along with carbon dioxide; therefore, this exhaled oxygen can be re-used to overcome the shortage.

INS Kolkata in Kuwait to pick up medical supplies

Apart from the navy, the Indian Air Force (IAF) also helped the civil administration to fight against the second wave by airlifting Oxygen tankers and other necessities both domestically and internationally. Altogether, the force has carried out 696 sorties within the country and 110 sorties abroad. The operations are still in place and are set to complete 1,000 sorties.

India’s aggregate covid caseload as of May 30 stood at 2.78 crore, with the death count touching 3,29,026. The tally of active cases in the country has reduced to 23,43,152 and comprise 7.58 per cent of the total infections. India has administered 20.57 crore vaccine doses till date.

(Compiled by Mili Verma)



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