Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

President Droupadi Murmu conferred Shaurya Chakra upon Lieutenant Bimal Ranjan Behera from Odisha.

Murmu approved Gallantry Awards for 80 Armed Forces personnel, including 12 posthumously. These awards include six Kirti Chakras (three posthumous); 16 Shaurya Chakras (two posthumous); 53 Sena Medals (seven posthumous); one Nao Sena Medal (Gallantry) and four Vayu Sena Medals (Gallantry).

President Murmu honoured Behera with the Shaurya Chakra in a special programme at Rashtrapati Bhawan in Delhi.

On Mar 06, 2023, ONGC reported an operational emergency and sought the Indian Navy’s diving assistance urgently. Armada Sterling V, a Fuel Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel deployed off Kakinada for a major offshore development project, critical for the nation’s energy security, had to abruptly suspend operations due to the entanglement of fishing nets at the fuel extraction mechanism. 

Lt Bimal Ranjan Behera was part of the diving team deployed to render assistance. At the FPSO, a vertical dive of 18 feet to the bilge keel followed by a horizontal dive of 100 feet athwart ships was required to reach the turret to restore operations. The underwater conditions were perilous. The vessel’s complex u/w fitments, menacing currents, sharp barnacles and the bulbous bow presented a ferocious water body. 

Diving to depths of even a few feet was gravely risky. Divers were unable to merely stabilise. However, Behera stepped up fearlessly as a lead diver. At about 1000h on 12 March 2023 as soon as the officer dived, the waters brutally assaulted him, throwing him bodily aft leaving him instantly breathless. The officer gallantly fought against these ruthless waters and descended 18 feet to reach the bilge keel. Without respite, the officer continued diving. As the enormous turbulence swirled and pushed, he precariously hung onto the bottom chain, hauled himself and the long umbilical, advancing barely a few inches at a time, and successfully reached the turret area traversing 100 feet athwartships. 

Fighting complete exhaustion, the officer extricated the nets around the turret and cleared the bell mouths one by one. Realising that orienting and clearing the turret by another diver would be risky, the officer shouldered bulk of diving efforts himself during this gruelling diving operation. He repeatedly dived 16 times for 552 minutes in two phases, negotiating the complex underwater fitments as well as the sharp cuts inflicted by barnacles and cleared the nets around the turret. Subsequently, braving the whirlpools, the officer dived and videographed under the turret. This offered an accurate underwater picture. 

The complex fuel extraction equipment was extricated from the nets and seamless installation of additional underwater fuel lines was enabled. This act of the officer was much beyond the call of duty. For the officer’s selfless act and raw courage with utter disregard for personal safety in an extremely hostile diving operation which brought to closure ONGC’s emergency, Behera was strongly recommended for the award of Shaurya Chakra.

“It was an out-of-box operation and a huge challenge for me. To be conferred Shaurya Chakra by President Droupadi Murmu, who is also an Odia, was a proud moment for me,” said Behera.

"At that time I had not thought of anything. For a soldier, the biggest dream is to receive a gallantry medal from the President of the country. I had never thought I would get this opportunity," said Bimal Ranjan Behera to OTV.

Taking to his X handle, BJP National Vice President and Kendrapara MP Baijayant Panda congratulated Lt Bimal Ranjan Behera. 

“Heartiest congratulations & best wishes to Lieutenant Bimal Ranjan Behera from Kendrapada, Odisha, on being conferred with the Shaurya Chakra by Hon’ble President Smt. Droupadi Murmu. In March 2023, when ONGC faced an emergency, Lieutenant Behera led a perilous diving operation to restore critical energy infrastructure. His selfless courage and dedication in dangerous underwater conditions ensured the safe resumption of operations, exemplifying true heroism,” read his post.

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