Plans afoot to enhance Coast Guard capabilities

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Margao: Stating that harmonising aeronautics and maritime fields is the need of the hour, Defence Secretary Dr Ajay Kumar IAS has said that plans are afoot to increase the capabilities of Indian Coast Guard.

The Defence Secretary inaugurated the two-day 9th National Maritime Search and Rescue workshop and exercise being organised by the Indian Coast Guard in association with the National Maritime Search and Rescue Board on Thursday at a hotel in Utorda under the theme ‘Harmonisation of Aeronautics and Maritime Search and Rescue.’

Speaking at the inaugural function, the Defence Secretary said, “It is our effort to harmonise aeronautics and search and rescue efforts at the national level. As human endeavors take us deeper into the sea, this harmonising becomes more important. Given the density of traffic in the Indian Ocean along with increased airline traffic, there is a greater need for better technology, logistics and search and rescue in maritime zones.”

He added that the central government plans to strengthen the capabilities of the Coast Guard by increasing its fleet and sub centres.

“We are in the process of adding 60 boats to our fleet and we hope to cross the 200 mark by 2025. We are also planning to have 80 aircrafts for search and rescue efforts. Process has also been initiated for two other programmes. We have also proposed to set up many more sub centres across the coastline,” said

Kumar.

Acquiring 14 heavy-role helicopters for search and rescue and acquiring 16 advanced life helicopters, which are to be built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), are part of the two programmes the Coast Guard plans to initiate. From the current strength of three centres, it is also being proposed to increase to 29 sub centres across the country’s coastline.

Kumar also informed that a proposal has been submitted to set up a new Indian Coast Guard Academy at Mangalore for which in-principle approval has already been granted. He also said that plans were in place to design a digital plan of the Indian coast and to introduce AI as well.

Also present at the inaugural function was Director General of Shipping Amitabh Kumar, who highlighted the fact that India ranks among the top 20 ship owning countries and added that while the aim of safety at sea by keeping loses to minimum and safeguarding the lives of people was crucial, it was also important to have quick response in case of emergencies.

Others present at the inaugural included CEO of Alliance Air C S Subbaiah, Director General of Indian Coast Guard DG K Natarajan, Coast Guard Commander (Western Seaboard) ADG V D Chafekar, Commander Coast Guard Region (West) Inspector General A P Badola and Deputy Director General (OPS and CS) Inspector General K R Suresh as well as dignitaries from 19 other countries.