Operation Samudra Setu, which was launched on May 5, 2020 as part of the national effort to repatriate Indian citizens from overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic has culminated after successfully bringing 3,992 Indian citizens back to their homeland by sea. Indian Naval Ships Jalashwa (Landing Platform Dock), and Airavat, Shardul and Magar (Landing Ship Tanks) participated in this operation which lasted over 55 days and involved traversing more than 23,000 kms by sea.
The greatest challenge for the Indian Navy was to avoid any incident of outbreak of infection onboard the ships during the evacuation operation. Rigorous measures were planned and medical/ safety protocols unique to the operating environment of ships were implemented. These were strictly followed onboard the ships undertaking Op Samudra Setu resulting in the safe return of 3,992 of our citizens to their homeland.
Along with other Government agencies, the Indian Navy has also been at the forefront of national efforts to assist our citizens. Indian Naval IL-38 and Dornier aircraft have been used for ferrying of doctors and COVID-19 related material across the country. Indian Naval personnel also innovated various customised equipment such as Personnel Protection Equipment NavRakshak, hand-held temperature sensors, assisted respiratory system, 3-D printed face shield, portable multi-feed oxygen manifold, ventilators, air-evacuation stretcher pod, baggage disinfectants etc. Most of these innovations were carried onboard the ships undertaking Op Samudra Setu and niche equipment was also provided to host countries from where evacuation was undertaken.
Another Landing Ship (Tank) Kesari undertook ‘Mission SAGAR’, carrying 580 tonnes of food aid and medical stores including ayurvedic medicines to Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros Islands and Seychelles, covering over 14,000 km in 49 days. One medical team each was also deployed at Mauritius and Comoros Island as part of the mission.
The 3,992 Indian citizens evacuated during Op Samudra Setu were disembarked at various ports as indicated in the table above and entrusted to the care of respective state authorities.