Mod­erni­sa­tion of the In­dian Coast Guard

In the past three decades, the ICG has grown from strength to strength and has be­come a force to reckon with. The fleet size has grown to over 80 ves­sels of var­i­ous size and role ca­pa­bil­i­ties, apart from sev­eral in­ter­cep­tor craft and work­boats. The Coast

SP's NavalForces - - FRONT PAGE - Rear Ad­mi­ral (Retd) Sushil Ram­say

In the past three decades, the ICG has grown from strength to strength and has be­come a force to reckon with. The fleet size has grown to over 80 ves­sels of var­i­ous size and role ca­pa­bil­i­ties, apart from sev­eral in­ter­cep­tor craft and work­boats.

THe IN­DIAN COAST GUARD (ICG), an armed force un­der the Min­istry of De­fence, was formed in 1978 with a spe­cific char­ter for non-mil­i­tary mar­itime safety and se­cu­rity func­tions in the mar­itime zones of In­dia. The ICG has come a long way since its mod­est be­gin­ning with two old frigates which were trans­ferred from the In­dian Navy and five pa­trol boats ob­tained from the Depart­ment of Cus­toms. Sub­se­quently, two Chetak he­li­copters and two Fokker Friend­ship (F-27) air­craft, leased from In­dian Air­lines formed the air arm of ICG. Over the years, the ICG has grown into a cred­i­ble force and is now fully in­te­grated with all na­tional agen­cies and or­gan­i­sa­tions which are stake­hold­ers in han­dling the chal­lenges em­a­nat­ing at or from the sea.

Thirty-six years hence, the ICG fleet is barely recog­nis­able from the past. The fleet size has grown to over 80 ves­sels of var­i­ous size and role ca­pa­bil­i­ties, apart from sev­eral in­ter­cep­tor craft and work­boats. The Coast Guard ships are now state-of-the-art ves­sels with an equip­ment fit which is abreast of the lat­est in tech­nol­ogy and oper­a­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties which con­form to the ICG Char­ter. This trans­for­ma­tion into a mod­ern and ef­fec­tive mar­itime or­gan­i­sa­tion has been grad­ual and a re­sult of the plans and poli­cies put in place over the years.

The wa­ter­shed mo­ment of ICG man­i­fested it­self in the rather un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent of Mum­bai ter­ror at­tacks on November 26, 2008. It was only post-26/11 that the In­dian Govern­ment paid heed to the clam­our raised by the ICG for an ur­gent need to mod­ernise the age­ing fleet and aug­ment its as­sets to meet its man­dated char­ter. The sub­se­quent mod­erni­sa­tion of the ICG brought about far-reach­ing changes in the or­gan­i­sa­tional set up as well as ma­te­rial as­sets, both ashore and afloat.

In 2008, the ICG had three re­gional head­quar­ters, 11 district head­quar­ters and five air es­tab­lish­ments. Dur­ing the past five years, the ICG has ob­tained govern­ment sanc­tions for two ad­di­tional Re­gional Head­quar­ters, three district head­quar­ters, 20 sta­tions, 10 air es­tab­lish­ments and a Coast Guard Acad­emy for spe­cialised train­ing on ICG tasks. Of these, two re­gional head­quar­ters at Gandhinagar and kolkata, two district head­quar­ters at kavaratti and Port Blair, 19 sta­tions and four air es­tab­lish­ments have been cre­ated in the past five years. With the es­tab­lish­ment of the re­main­ing in­fra­struc­ture in the near fu­ture, the ICG will have a well-spread or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­ture with five re­gional head­quar­ters, 14 district head­quar­ters, 42 Coast Guard sta­tions and 15 air es­tab­lish­ments func­tion­ing all along the coast.

Sim­i­larly, there were about 60 sur­face plat­forms com­pris­ing off­shore pa­trol ves­sels (OPVs), fast pa­trol ves­sels (FPVs), in­ter- cep­tor boats (IBs) and air cush­ion ve­hi­cles (ACVs), avail­able to the ICG in 2008. The post-26/11 ca­pa­bil­ity build­ing plan has re­sulted in the ICG con­clud­ing con­tracts for more than 120 sur­face plat­forms of dif­fer­ent sizes since Jan­uary 2009 till date. The cur­rent force level has grown to over 90 sur­face plat­forms com­pris­ing OPVs, pol­lu­tion con­trol ves­sels (PCVs), FPVs and IBs/ ACVs de­spite con­cur­rent de­com­mis­sion­ing of over a dozen ships and boats. Of the con­cluded con­tracts, about 100 sur­face plat­forms are cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion with DPSUs and pri­vate ship­yards in In­dia and fur­ther ac­qui­si­tion of 20 odd ships in­clud­ing a train­ing ship are be­ing pro­gressed.

On the avi­a­tion front, the ICG has

A ca­pa­ble and con­fi­dent ICG has scripted a suc­cess story which speaks for it­self

grown from 45 air­craft in 2008 to more than 60 air­craft cur­rently. The ex­ist­ing fleet of Dornier air­craft is also be­ing up­graded with state-of-the-art equip­ment like the eLTA radar for more ef­fec­tive mar­itime sur­veil­lance. Retrofit­ment of ad­vanced pol­lu­tion sur­veil­lance equip­ment on these air­craft is also un­der con­struc­tion. Ac­qui­si­tion of ad­di­tional air­craft is also be­ing pro­cessed and by the end of the decade, the ef­fec­tive strength of Coast Guard air as­sets is ex­pected to reach the three fig­ure mark.

In its march to­wards ca­pa­bil­ity build­ing, the ICG has also kept pace with the lat­est in the field of tech­nol­ogy to make its ships leaner and meaner. The ICG has in­vested in in­creas­ing the speed of its ves­sels sub­stan­tially so as to en­able it to re­spond to any emerg­ing sit­u­a­tion at sea with alacrity. Mod­erni­sa­tion has also trans­formed the erst­while ma­chin­ery con­trol rooms mon­i­tor­ing ana­logue pa­ram­e­ters to soft­ware based ma­chin­ery con­trols and di­ag­nos­tic sys­tem which can be ac­cessed from the po­si­tion of own choos­ing. The in­tro­duc­tion of jet propul­sion sys­tems for FPVs has ren- dered those with ex­cel­lent ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity and shal­low wa­ter ca­pa­bil­i­ties which are cru­cial for ICG op­er­a­tions. Along with the ad­vance­ment in propul­sion sys­tem, the ICG has also mod­ernised the Bridge and Nav­i­ga­tion Bridge by in­tro­duc­ing the most ad­vanced In­te­grated Bridge Sys­tems.

To fur­ther syn­er­gise its search and res­cue (SAR) ef­forts, the ICG has set up Mar­itime Res­cue Co­or­di­na­tion Cen­tres and Sub-cen­tres at its Re­gional and District Head­quar­ters for co­or­di­na­tion of res­cue ef­forts. The ICG has also es­tab­lished a ves­sel re­port­ing sys­tem, INDSAR, ex­clu­sively for SAR co­or­di­na­tion and a toll free no 1554 for SAR emer­gency re­sponse.

Se­ri­ously pur­su­ing its Pol­lu­tion Re­sponse char­ter, the ICG has es­tab­lished three Pol­lu­tion Re­sponse Cen­tres at Mum­bai, Chen­nai and Port Blair with a com­bined ca­pa­bil­ity for re­spond­ing up to 10,000 tonnes spillage. Ad­di­tion of two PCVs and con­struc­tion of an­other one has been a shot in the arm for the ICG to deal with a large num­ber of tankers ply­ing through In­dian eeZ, as also the in­creased pop­u­la­tion of oil and gas rigs along the west and east coasts.

In tune with the na­tional ob­jec­tive to en­sure near gap­less sur­veil­lance of the en­tire coast­line and for preventing in­tru­sion by un­de­tected ves­sels, ICG has been given the re­spon­si­bil­ity of es­tab­lish­ing a coastal sur­veil­lance net­work (CSN) along the en­tire In­dian coast­line in­clud­ing the is­land ter­ri­to­ries. Phase-I of the project, in the form of 46 static radars along the coast­line—36 in the main­land and 10 in the Is­land ter­ri­to­ries—is near­ing completion. The data gen­er­ated by the static radar chain and au­to­matic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem sen­sors will be in­te­grated with the ves­sel traf­fic man­age­ment sys­tem in­stalled in all ma­jor ports as well as in the Gulfs of kutch and khamb­hat and pro­cessed at var­i­ous lev­els prior to flow­ing on to Coast Guard Head­quar­ters from where it will be shared with all agen­cies as­so­ci­ated with coastal se­cu­rity. This would be fol­lowed up with the Phase-II of the CSN project which is aimed at fur­ther con­sol­i­dat­ing the gains ac­crued from Phase-I of the project.

The ICG had a meta­mor­pho­sis over the years and has emerged as a ma­ture and vi­brant mar­itime or­gan­i­sa­tion. This has been made pos­si­ble through con­stant in­te­gra­tion with all de­vel­op­ments in tech­nol­ogy and en­sur­ing that this process of mod­erni­sa­tion would be ir­re­versible and con­tin­u­ous in the years to come.

In the past three decades, the ICG has grown from strength to strength and has be­come a force to reckon with. ICG has built-up an in­ter­na­tional li­ai­son and is looked up by neigh­bour­ing coun­tries for as­sis­tance in the field of SAR, ma­rine pol­lu­tion re­sponse and other non-mil­i­tary mar­itime char­ter. A ca­pa­ble and con­fi­dent ICG has scripted a suc­cess story which speaks for it­self.

PHO­TOGRAPHS: ICG

In­dian Coast Guard ship C-401

Com­mis­sion­ing of fast pa­trol ves­sel ICGS Aadesh

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