The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is on course to become a 200-ship maritime force in another five years, its director general VS Pathania said. He also said that the ICG, the fourth largest coast guard force in the world, has grown at a rapid pace over the years, with 158 ships in its inventory at present.
Pathania, when approached by PTI, explained that the ICG is expected to have close to 180 ships in two years and over 200 ships in the next five years, thus meeting the force’s target. He pointed out that the process of securing approvals and the ship construction itself are time consuming.
The minimum time taken for building a ship after the signing of a contract is 36 months, the ICG chief said. "So give us about another five years… The way we are growing, you will find the Coast Guard (owing) 200-plus (ships)," he stated on the sidelines of a programme for commissioning of the newest entrant in ICG's fleet, ICGS Kamla Devi, earlier this week here.
Pathania said that the coast guard has 27 bigger vessels, which are 150-metre long. "With the addition of Kamla Devi, the number of FPVs (fast patrol vessel) will inch closer to 50," he said. The force also has 67 interceptor boats, Pathania noted.
The director general said that in times to come, the ICG will add two pollution control vessels, which will be specifically used for mitigating any oil spills or HNS (hazardous and noxious substances) spills at sea. "The keel has already been laid. The timeline is 36 months from today," the ICG chief said.
The ICG has got approval from the Union government for six offshore patrol vessels and 14 fast patrol vessels. Pathania said that the maritime force is growing in keeping with the security requirements of the country. "Everybody now wants to venture into the sea as these have good resources which can aid the economic growth of any country. Protecting our own resources is our challenge," he asserted.
He said that the ICG has big and small ships available round the clock across maritime areas in the eastern and western sea boards of the country. "We have got 60 ships all along the Indian coasts at any given time. Whenever there is an emergency at sea, whether it is a search and rescue operation or any illegal activity, the response time a coast guard team takes is bare minimum," he said. The ICG also has in its inventory helicopters and Dornier aircraft meant for various missions, from security of the maritime zones to rescue operations.