Home India News Indian Coast Guard eyes major induction of ships, aircraft

Indian Coast Guard eyes major induction of ships, aircraft


New Delhi : The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is eyeing an ambitious ramping up of its assets to 217 ships and 74 aircraft in the next five years to prevent gunrunning, smuggling and human trafficking, as also terror attacks from the sea, a top military commander said Thursday.

“We are hoping to induct these assets during the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2007-12),” ICG chief Vice Admiral Rusi Contractor told reporters here ahead of the 31st anniversary of India’s youngest armed force.

Of the new ships, some 70 would be “bigger vessels” like advanced offshore patrol vessels and the others of a wide variety like interceptor boats and inshore patrol vessels.

“We are also looking at six multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft and twin-engine helicopters,” the ICG chief said of the force that started with just two frigates and five patrol boats taken on lease from the Indian Navy and today operates 76 ships and 45 aircraft.

The expansion had become necessary as “changes in the maritime environment have necessitated the Indian Coast Guard to evolve and take on additional responsibilities”, Contractor pointed out.

The ICG is tasked with protecting the marine wealth and vast ocean resources in India’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) that encompasses an enormous 2.01 million square kilometres.

“We are also the focal point in India under the Regional Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAPP – involving 16 countries of the region) that has seen piracy in the Strait of Malacca reducing 30 percent in the past few years,” Contractor said.

“We have also signed agreements with Japan and South Korea to gain from the established practices of the two major coast guards in the region,” he added.

Detailing the ICG’s achievements over the last three decades, Contractor said its “dedicated efforts” had resulted in saving 4,049 lives at sea to date, “out of them 185 lives were saved in the year gone by – that translates to a life being saved every second day”.

Since inception, the ICG has apprehended 9,220 foreign fishermen along with 925 fishing vessels for violating the Maritime Zones of India Act.

“The repatriation of these fishermen back to their countries of origin is also our responsibility. Two hundred and fifty-four personnel have been repatriated to the countries of their origin in the year gone by,” the ICG chief said.

The ICG has also “vigorously pursued” its charter for the preservation of marine life and every year conducts “Operation Olivia” to prevent the poaching of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles along the Orissa coast. It has thus far seized 315 boats along with 500 crewmembers involved in poaching the protected species.

The Coast Guard also coordinates the National Oil Spill Disaster Contingency Plan.

“Efforts are underway to make ports and oil handling agencies self-reliant in responding to oil spills of up to 700 tonnes. This would leave us the task of tackling major oil spills, even in the deep sea, with specialised vessels,” Contractor pointed out.

The ICG is also assisting the coastal states in setting up Marine police stations and training police personnel under the Coastal Security Scheme.

“Till date, 862 police personnel have been trained and Marine police stations set up in 41 locations,” Contractor said.