New Delhi, 1st February 2023: The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is celebrating its 47th Raising Day on 1st February (Wednesday). From a modest beginning with just seven surface platforms in 1978, ICG has grown into a formidable force with 158 ships and 78 aircraft in its inventory and is likely to achieve targeted force levels of 200 surface platforms and 80 aircraft by 2025.
ICG is considered a renowned Coast Guard in the world due to its achievements and the efficiency with which it operates its assets in a challenging environment, thereby ensuring round-the-clock safety and security. True to its motto – Vayam Rakshamah, meaning We Protect – the service has to its credit saved over 11,881 lives since its inception in 1977, with 279 lives saved in 2022 alone.
To ensure security in the Maritime Zones of India, the Indian Coast Guard has maintained 24 x 7 vigil by deploying about 50 to 60 ships and 10 to 12 aircraft daily. It is to fulfil the nation’s expectation to keep our seas free and secure to facilitate sustainable progress on blue economy efforts by various stakeholders, besides ensuring a safe environment for maritime transportation through our sea lanes. It is envisioned that the future ICG shall be omnipresent by showing presence all over.
The vast seas with overlapping jurisdiction provide avenues for anti-nationals to exploit the sea routes by posing themselves as mariners at work at sea. The Maritime Law Enforcement has been strengthened multifold, and the hawk-eye vigil by the ICG in our near coast and blue waters has resulted in the seizure of weapons, contraband and narcotics worth Rs 2,924 crore. The recent cases of apprehension of Pak Boat ‘Al Sohili’ with about 40 Kg of Narcotics along with six pistols, 12 magazines, and 120 live rounds are telling examples of ICG’s robust detection and response mechanism against such inimical designs. They have also an institutionalized mechanism of sharing information with littoral countries, as a result of which they have been successful in the apprehension of drugs and contraband worth Rs 3,260 crore in three different operations. Their collaborative actions have created an effective deterrence and created a shield at sea where penetration by the smugglers has been made nearly impossible.
On the aviation front, the Coast Guard is now more focused on updating its existing capabilities. Recently, the ICG has concluded a maiden contract for 10 Multicopter Drones in consonance with the GoI policy of embracing drone technology, capable of being launched from both ships and shore stations. Further, to overcome the obsolescence in Dorniers, a contract has been signed for the mid-life upgrade of 17 Aircraft with state-of-the-art systems/sensors. Procurement of additional 100 drones by 2025, Multi-Mission Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MMMA) and Twin Engine Helicopters (TEHH) are also envisaged to bolster the operational capability of the Indian Coast Guard. In addition, the modernization of airfields operated by the Coast Guard is also being undertaken under the ‘Modernization of Air Field Infrastructure (MAFI)’ project with the installation and commissioning of modern airfield equipment like DVOR, HPDME and Air Traffic Management System (ATMS). The up-gradation of navigation aids and infrastructure under this project would enhance the operational capability of air operations even in poor visibility and adverse weather conditions, whilst enhancing aero safety.
In keeping with the nation’s vision of ‘SAGAR’ and ‘Neighbourhood First’ the Indian Coast Guard has imparted training to several Officers and Personnel Below Officer ranks from friendly foreign Countries in the year 2022. In the last year, sanctions for the creation of 657 posts have been accorded by GoI, which will assist Indian Coast Guard in effectively discharging its duties as a credible, reliable and omnipresent maritime force.
On the marine environment protection front, the ICG Central Coordinating Authority for Oil Spill Response in Indian EEZ, has ensured that there were no major oil spill incidents in Indian waters throughout last year. ICG has undertaken active pollution response preventive measures and coordinated with stakeholders for mitigation of oil spill risks during the grounding of MV Princess Miral off New Mangalore, MT Global King-1 off Porbandar and MT Parth off Ratnagiri in the last year. To test the readiness, a National Level Pollution Response Exercise (NATPOLREX-VIII) was conducted off Goa in April 2022, wherein 13 CG Ships, nine Aircraft, and two foreign Coast Guard Ships participated. The exercise, which was witnessed by Observers from 19 countries, showcased ICGs capability to respond to any major oil and Hazardous and Noxious Substances (HNS) spill in the Indian EEZ and to extend support to friendly countries in case of any contingency.
The ICG has been a pioneer in inducting indigenous assets in line with ‘Make in India’ and ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ wherein the Service recently inducted six ships built from Indian Shipyards, four Air Squadrons by inducting 16 ALHs built by M/s HAL in the year gone by. Further, 21 ships are under construction at three shipyards, including two Pollution Control vessels, which will be our frontline ships for combating marine pollution in our AoR and beyond.
The President of India, Vice President, Prime Minister and Defence Minister have extended greetings and congratulated the Indian Coast Guard on the completion of 46 glorious years of yeoman service to the nation and appreciated the remarkable role played by the service in pursuit of the nation’s interests in the Maritime Zones.