An Indian naval officer was keen to visit HMAS Ballarat during the ship’s Goa port visit between phases of Exercise Malabar to thank the frigate’s crew for the ship’s part in his rescue during the 2018 Golden Globe Race.

Commander Abhilash Tomy had been sailing in the around-the-world yacht race when his vessel was damaged in rough seas more than 3400 kilometres west of Perth.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority requested assistance from the ADF, which tasked Ballarat to take part in the search-and-rescue mission, joining French and Indian authorities. 

“I had been sailing solo for 82 days straight when a storm hit SV Thuriya, my 32-foot two-masted ketch,” Commander Tomy said.

“I suffered an incapacitating back injury when Thuriya capsized and demasted during the violent storm in the Southern Ocean.

“The Australian search-and-rescue authorities issued a broadcast to shipping and tasked the French Fisheries Patrol Vessel Osiris to assist.

“I was finally evacuated by stretcher from Thuriya to Osiris and taken to Amsterdam Island for treatment.”

Commander Tomy was transferred to INS Satpura for repatriation to India once his condition improved.

Two years later, Commander Tomy said he made it his personal pilgrimage to travel to meet the crew of Ballarat and Commanding Officer Commander Antony Pisani while the Australian frigate was alongside in Goa.

Commander Pisani said the rescue showed that Navy is postured, prepared and willing to assist when called upon. 

“This is a great example of how flexible and agile the Royal Australian Navy is at responding and helping people in their time of need our commitment to the international convention for the safety of life at sea,” he said.