India signs Rs.300-cr deal for interceptor boats

October 17th, 2011 - 7:13 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 17 (IANS) In a bid to plug gaps in its coastal security, India has signed a Rs.300 crore deal for importing 80 fast interceptor craft (FIC) for its navy’s specialised infantry force from a Sri Lankan shipyard.

The contract was signed in the last week of September and it envisages delivery of the 80 boats by 2014, a naval officer told IANS here Monday.

The fleet of FICs will enable the newly-raised 1,000-man Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB) to plug gaps in patrol and interception operations that were identified following the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack, the officer said.

Sri Lankan shipyard Solas Marine was chosen for the order in June. The induction of the 80 boats will take place over 36 months from now, the officer said.

“The navy will carry out shallow water operations by day and night for seaward anti-terrorist patrols for security for naval assets, besides interception at high speeds and perform search and rescue operations,” he added.

The 80 FICs will be in addition to the 15 boats that India had ordered from French firm Chantiere Navale Couach at a cost of Rs.65 crore in March last year. The 15 boats are now in the process of delivery and the order is expected to be completed by 2012. But these 15 boats are not meant for the SPB.

The fast interceptor boats have a maximum speed of 50 nautical miles per hour and would be used by the navy to intercept suspicious boats along the coast for inspection and verification. They will also be used for preventing crimes such as poaching and smuggling, apart from counter-terror operations.

India is also getting 300 fast attack craft for its navy, coast guard and marine police to strengthen their capabilities, a decision taken in the backdrop of the 26/11 terror attack.

The SPB, raised in 2010, has 98 officers and 902 sailors. They presently operate in hired boats.

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