Grow­ing Rapidly

On its 35th an­niver­sary, the In­dian Coast Guard fo­cuses on maritime safety and se­cu­rity

SP's NavalForces - - SEAPLANE / CELEBRATIONS -

LT GEN­ERAL (RETD) NARESH CHAND

THE IN­DIAN COAST GUARD (ICG) cel­e­brated its 35th an­niver­sary on Fe­bru­ary 1, 2012. Since its in­cep­tion, the ser­vice has been a mul­ti­fac­eted and vi­brant force, main­tain­ing round the clock vigil in the maritime zones of In­dia, by de­ploy­ing its multi-role ships and air­craft.

Be­gin­ning with a mod­est in­ven­tory of two ex-naval frigates, the ser­vice to­day boasts of a force level of 68 ships and 52 air­craft. Dur­ing the past year, one ship, four in­ter­cep­tor boats, four Dornier air­craft and two Chetak he­li­copters have been com­mis­sioned into ser­vice, in ad­di­tion to the es­tab­lish­ment of six CG sta­tions and two air en­claves.

Force level: The In­dian Coast Guard is on the path of rapid ex­pan­sion, as a large num­ber of state-of-the-art ships, boats and air­craft are un­der-con­struc­tion at var­i­ous ship­yards. The ser­vice is expected to at­tain a force level of 77 sur­face plat­forms and 56 air­craft by end 2012. The Coast Guard will also have 42 Coast Guard sta­tions, four air sta­tions and 11 air en­claves func­tion­ing all along the coast, by the end of 2012. As far as CG op­er­a­tions are con­cerned, an av­er­age of 18 ships and five air­craft are tasked daily, to keep the vast ex­clu­sive eco­nomic zone and coast­line un­der con­stant sur­veil­lance. Fur­ther, the es­tab­lish­ment of coastal sur­veil­lance net­work (CSN) is be­ing pro­gressed to boost the sur­veil­lance ca­pa­bil­i­ties along the coast­line. Forty six CSN sta­tions are be­ing set up un­der Phase I of the project.

Coastal se­cu­rity: Coastal se­cu­rity has been on the fore­front of CG op­er­a­tions for the past few years. To­day, Coast Guard sta­tions and coastal marine po­lice sta­tions are func­tion­ing as ‘hub and spoke’ for in­for­ma­tion out­flow. Stan­dard oper­at­ing pro­ce­dures (SOPs) for coastal se­cu­rity of all the coastal states/union ter­ri­to­ries have been pro­mul­gated by the ICG. Syn­ergy amongst var­i­ous stake­hold­ers is achieved by con­duct of reg­u­lar ex­er­cises and op­er­a­tions, and sub­se­quent re­view of the SOPs. Seven­teen such ex­er­cises and 19 op­er­a­tions have been con­ducted dur­ing the last one year.

Community in­ter­ac­tion: The ser­vice has also formed a bond with fish­er­men, by con­duct­ing reg­u­lar community in­ter­ac­tion pro­grammes, so that they act as eyes and ears for coastal se­cu­rity. About 400 such community in­ter­ac­tion pro­grammes have been con­ducted since Jan­uary 2011. Pro­vi­sion­ing of bio­met­ric iden­tity cards for fish­er­men and uni­form reg­is­tra­tion of fish­ing boats for pre­cise iden­ti­fi­ca­tion at sea, is un­der progress.

Search and res­cue: Search and res­cue op­er­a­tions are reg­u­larly car­ried out by the ICG which has re­sulted in sav­ing of 415 lives dur­ing 2011. A “Search and Res­cue” ex­er­cise was also con­ducted off Mum­bai on Jan­uary 14, in which in­ter­na­tional ob­servers from seven coun­tries par­tic­i­pated.

In­ter­ac­tion with other coun­tries: In­sti­tu­tion­alised vis­its as per the mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with Ja­pan Coast Guard and Korea Coast Guard are be­ing con­ducted reg­u­larly. On Jan­uary 12, a com­bined Indo-Ja­pan Coast Guard ex­er­cise was con­ducted. The ICG also hosted a ca­pac­ity build­ing work­shop with Re­gional Co­op­er­a­tion Agree­ment on Com­bat­ing Piracy and Armed Rob­bery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) in Novem­ber last year, at Goa. In ad­di­tion, a bian­nual joint ex­er­cise ‘Dosti’ is also con­ducted with the Mal­dives Na­tional De­fence Force.

The In­dian Coast Guard has evolved into a ma­ture and highly ca­pa­ble maritime force with state-of-the-art ships, boats and air­craft. The theme of the In­dian Coast Guard for the year 2012 is ‘Fo­cus on Maritime Safety and Se­cu­rity’, which aptly re­flects the com­mit­ment and re­solve of the ser­vice, and is in tune with its motto ‘Vayam Rak­shamah’ mean­ing ‘We Pro­tect’.

PHO­TO­GRAPH: PIB

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