ICG eyes 200 ships and 100 aircraft inventory
Chennai: The Indian Coast Guard has planned to acquire 16 advanced light helicopters apart from 50 vessels to its fleet as part of its vision to have 200 ships and 100 aircraft inventory by 2025.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Coast Guard Director General Krishnaswamy Natarajan said, "Today we have 50 ships under construction in various Indian shipyards and apart from that we have 16 advanced light helicopter MKIII under production with HAL, Bengaluru."
The first of the twin engine helicopter was expected to be inducted by March 2020, he said after the 19th edition of Indo-Japan joint exercise "Sahyog-Kaijin," about 50 nautical miles off Chennai coast.
Natarajan noted that the Coast Guard has recorded significant progress and the present inventory was at 145 ships and 62 aircraft.
"The budget (of Coast Guard) which was about Rs 1,000 crore has now grown to more than Rs 5,000 crore in terms of both revenue and capital," he said.
"We are also in the process of acquiring 14 twin engine heavy helicopters and 6 multi-mission maritime aircraft which will have a capability of maintaining surveillance in our exclusive economic zone," he said.
The Indian Coast Guard, fourth largest coastal security agency in the world, has installed 36 Coastal Surveillance Radar Network on the mainland and 10 on islands that can track suspicious vessels.
"We also plan to install 38 more Radar Stations apart from integrating the radar stations with Vessel Traffic Management System of the Ports. Our vision is to reach 200 ships and 100 aircraft by 2025," he said.
On the joint exercise, he said this year it was the turn of Japanese Coast Guard to visit India, further strengthening ties between the two nations.
Natarajan said the Japanese Coast Guard has extended support to Indian Coast Guard by capacity building in the form of training.
"You all should know Japan Coast Guard is the second largest Coast Guard of the world, after the US. I can also proudly say Indian Coast Guard has acclaimed the stature of 4th largest with 145 ships in its inventory and 62 aircraft..," he said.
In 2019, the Coast Guard has apprehended Rs 2,000 crore worth of drugs with most of them from the Western Coast.
Referring to the Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) signed with his Japanese counterpart, the official said Coast Guard has signed similar agreements with South Korea, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman, Vietnam and Pakistan.
On the MoC, Japan Coast Guard commandant admiral Takahiro Okushima said the relationships between the two coast guards was getting stronger every year.
"So far we have conducted 18 such joint exercises.
Through today's exercise we realise once again the partnerships steadily enhanced..," he said.
Earlier in the day, the exercise was conducted off the Chennai Coast as part of strengthening the bond between the two countries. One ship of the Japanese Coast Guard and four ships and an aircraft of the Indian Coast Guard took part in the exercise.
Led by Commanding Officer Captain Kiyoshi Harada, the 'Echigo PLH08' and the four ships and a Dornier aircraft of Indian Coast Guard participated in the drill around 50 nautical miles off Chennai.
The exercise marked demonstrations of search and rescue, external fire-fighting and sharing of best practices.
According to an official, the apprehension of a pirate vessel MV Alondra Rainbow by the Coast Guard in November 1999 off the west coast of India marked the beginning of regular interaction between the Coast Guards of India and Japan.