Indian Coast Guard is now a 150 ship force and with 40 more ships at various stages of under construction, making it vital to the Indian maritime infrastructure which has grown since the November 2008 — 26/11 — terror attacks on Mumbai.
Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Sachet (meaning alert) and two interceptor boats (IBs) named C-450 and C-451 were commissioned at the western coast city of Goa via video conference by the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. India is keeping strict norms of social distancing in times of the Covid-19 outbreak hence the video conferencing.
“With the commissioning of these ships, the Indian Cost Guard (ICG) has reached a landmark 150 ships & Boats and 62 aircraft,” a statement of the Ministry of Defence said on May 15.
Another 40 ships are in various stages of construction at different Indian Shipyards and 16 advanced light helicopters are under production at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bengaluru, which will provide the added strength to the surveillance capabilities of ICG.
What are the new ships
The ICGS Sachet, the first in the series of five offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) has been designed & built indigenously by Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) and is fitted with state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment.
The 105 metre long ship ‘Sachet’ displaces approximately 2,350 tons and is propelled by two 9,100 KW diesel engines designed to attain a maximum speed of 26 knots, with an endurance of 6,000 nautical miles. The sustenance and reach, coupled with the latest equipment and systems, provides her the capability to perform the role of a command platform.
The ship is designed to carry a twin-engine helicopter and four high speed boats and one inflatable boat for swift boarding and search & rescue operations. The ship is also capable of carrying limited pollution response equipment to undertake oil spill pollution response at sea.
The IBs C-450 and C-451 are indigenously designed & built by Larsen & Toubro Shipyard Hazira, and fitted with latest navigation and communication equipment. The two 30 metre long boats are capable of achieving speeds in excess of 45 knots and designed for high speed interception, close coast patrol and low intensity maritime operations.
The quick response capability of the IBs makes it an ideal platform to respond and thwart any emerging maritime situation.
The ships, on joining the Coast Guard fleet, will be deployed extensively for Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) surveillance, coastal security and other duties as enshrined in the Coast Guard charter of duties, to safeguard the maritime interests of the Nation.
Coast guard pioneer in local
The Coast Guard has been a pioneer in inducting indigenous assets which has enabled it to remain operationally available throughout the year. In continuation of maximising the indigenous content in the IBs has about 70 per cent of indigenous contents, thus providing the necessary fillip to the Indian shipbuilding industry.
The ‘Sachet’ has been made by the Goa Shipyard and while the smaller boats have been made by the L&T Shipyard, Hazira.
Commissioning the ship through digital means, Rajnath Singh said, “The commissioning of these ships is an important milestone in India’s coastal capability building process”.
Being a responsible maritime power, Oceans are priority of the Government, he added while praising the role of ICG guarding the coastline. “As the fourth largest Coast Guard in the world, it has established itself as a reliable force. It not only protects our coastline and coastal community, but also protects economic activities, and maritime environment in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).”
ICG expanding role
The ICG has to its credit of saving about 400 lives at sea, 4,500 lives as part of assistance rendered to civil authorities and undertook 32 medical evacuations in the year 2019 alone. The deterrence created by the ICG is not limited to the Indian waters, but collaboration with friendly littoral states as per provisions of bilateral cooperation agreements resulted in successful apprehension and seizure of drugs in Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The real time information sharing, close coordination and understanding between ICG and other international agencies has been the key success of these operations. Hawk eye vigil of the Indian EEZ has ensured seizure of Rs 2,000 crore ( some $280 million) contraband, detainment of 30 foreign fishing vessels with 119 miscreants for fishing illegally in Indian waters during the same period.
Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar, Secretary (Defence Finance) Gargi Kaul and other senior officials of Ministry of Defence were present in Delhi.
Junior minister in the MoD, Sripad Naik was at Goa along with the Chairman and Managing Director of Goa Shipyard Commodore Bharat Bhushan Nagpal (Retd).