Nausena Medal (Gallantry) Commander Kuntal Wadhwa (41909-Y) (Posthumous)
EMBARGO : NOT TO BE USED/ RELEASED/ PUBLISHED UNTIL 0001 HRS ON 26 JAN 2015
Late Commander Kuntal Wadhwa was a part of commissioning crew of destroyer Kolkata and posted onboard as Engineer Officer (Desig), since 30 May 13. He was actively involved in all trials and tests being conducted by the shipyard towards preparation of the ship for delivery to the Indian Navy. One of the major trials was the CO2 Gas Discharge Test (GDT) which is conducted only on the first ship of the class to test the efficiency of the fire fighting system for machinery compartments. This test was scheduled on 07 Mar 14. Considering the potential hazards involved in the operation of the fire fighting system during the first test, Commander Wadhwa undertook meticulous planning of the entire test procedure to ensure the safety of the men under him. On the day of the incident, he personally briefed the entire team and ensured that the crew were in appropriate stations with adequate personnel safety gear prior to commencement of the test. Having assured complete safety of his team, the officer decided to personally lead the team manning the Aft CO2 station which houses the CO2 cylinders and the manual actuation mechanism to be used in case of failure of automatic system. Commander Wadhwa refused to put his juniors in harm’s way and his decision to lead the team in the CO2 station was based on the assessment of the risk and corrective action that would be necessary in case of failure of automatic system.
As soon as test commenced, the CO2 system malfunctioned and resulted in heavy leakage of CO2 gas in the aft station. Displaying rare courage and scarce regard to his personal safety, Commander Wadhwa ordered his team to evacuate the station immediately and stayed back to rectify the defect and arrest the leakage. While ensuring the safety of his team and the ship as a whole, he sustained a head injury along with inhalation of large quantity of CO2, which proved to be fatal.
For this selfless act of bravery and courage in the face of adversity, in keeping with the highest traditions of service, Commander Kuntal Wadhwa has been awarded Nau Sena Medal (Gallantry) (Posthumous).
Late Commander Kuntal Wadhwa (41909-Y) was a highly competent naval officer, who served the Indian Navy with distinction and utmost dedication for over 17 years as a commissioned officer. His exemplary leadership qualities and his dedication to the profession had earned him the respect and affection of his men.
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