New Delhi: India’s coast guard today got its 150th ship in its fleet inducted into the force, when defence minister Rajnath Singh commissioned three vessels via video conferencing due to the social distancing restrictions imposed by the government in view of the COVID-19 global crisis.
Rajnath Singh, based in the national capital, commissioned Indian Coast Guard Ship (ICGS) Sachet and two Interceptor Boats (IBs) C-450 and C-451 that were in Goa.
The ICGS Sachet, the first in the series of five Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) has been designed and built indigenously by Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) and is fitted with state-of-the-art navigation and communication equipment.
“The commissioning of these ships is an important milestone in India’s coastal capability-building process. Also, despite challenges like COVID-19, it is also a great example of our commitment and determination for the safety and security of the country. The rising power of ‘our sea guard’, ICG and Indian shipbuilding industry is a matter of pride for the country,” Singh said, commending ICG and GSL for this initiative of commissioning through digital means.
“The oceans are the lifelines of not only our country, but also global prosperity,” the minister said, spelling out Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s vision ‘SAGAR‘ (Security and Growth for All in the Region).
“Safe, protected and clean seas provide economic opportunities for our nation building. India is an emerging maritime power, and our prosperity is also very dependent on the sea. Being a responsible maritime power, oceans are a priority of the government,” he added.
“As the fourth largest Coast Guard in the world, India 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).”
The minister acknowledged that the sea can become a medium of any kind of threats sponsored by anti-national elements. Therefore, it is extremely important to develop a collaborative and cooperative approach among all stakeholders.
He expressed the confidence that the Coast Guard Ships being inducted today will add to their strength and help in addressing the challenges related to maritime terrorism, drug trafficking, smuggling, maritime law enforcement and the search and rescue of threatened mariners.
Rajnath Singh recognised the shipbuilding done by Goa Shipyard and Larsen & Toubro Shipyard at Hazira, who have continued to build and maintain ships under the present circumstances. He said, “It also shows the professionalism. It is noteworthy that Indian shipyards are making significant contribution to the vision of ‘Make in India‘ and ‘Self-reliant India campaign’, which was recently inspired by our Prime Minister.”
Indian Coast Guard Director General Krishnaswamy Natarajan said the commissioning event proved that despite the hurdles posed by COVID19, the ICG moves ahead. He said the new additions to the ICG fleet of vessels would assist the ICG to remain ever vigilant at sea and contribute to nation’s fight against COVID-19.
The 105-metre 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 and undertake tasks to fulfill the ICG charter.
The ship is designed to carry a twin-engine helicopter and four high speed boats and one inflatable boat for swift boarding and search and rescue operations. The ship is also capable of carrying limited pollution response equipment to undertake oil spill pollution response at sea.
‘Sachet’, meaning ‘alert’, is a projection of will and commitment of ICG “to be ever vigilant for serving and protecting” the maritime interest of the nation. The ICGS Sachet is being commanded by Deputy Inspector General Rajesh Mittal and manned by 11 officers and 110 men.
It is for the first time in Indian maritime history that a ship was commissioned through digital medium, maintaining strict protocol of social distancing in the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic.
The IBs C-450 and C-451 are indigenously designed and built by Larsen & Toubro Shipyard at Hazira, and fitted with latest navigation and communication equipment. The two 30-metre 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 are commanded by Assistant Commandant Gaurav Kumar Gola and Assistant Commandant Akin Zutshi.
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 shipbuilding capability, the IBs have about 70 per cent of indigenous content, thus providing the necessary fillip to the Indian industry.
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.
With the commissioning of these ships, the ICG has reached a landmark 150 ships and boats, and 62 aircraft in its fleet. Further, 40 ships are in various stages of construction at different Indian shipyards and 16 advanced light helicopters are under production at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited at Bengaluru, which will provide the added strength to the surveillance capabilities of ICG to deal with the ever-dynamic maritime challenges.
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 ($263 million, at today’s currency conversion) worth of 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, and Secretary (Defence Finance) Gargi Kaul were present here, while Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik and Goa Shipyard Limited Chairman and Managing Director Commodore Bharat Bhushan Nagpal (Retired) were present in Goa on the occasion.