Nine patrol vessels deployed for India’s coastal surveillance

December 13th, 2008 - 10:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Dec 13 (IANS) In a significant step towards strengthening India’s coastal surveillance, the Indian Customs Saturday commissioned nine advanced patrol vessels and announced plans to acquire 100 more within the next five years at a cost of Rs.3.58 billion.Chairman of Central Board of Excise and Customs P.C. Jha commissioned two classes of vessels - three category I vessels and six category III vessels at the Mumbai Port Saturday evening.

These vessels shall be stationed in Mumbai, Raigad, Ratnagiri (Maharashtra), Goa, Mangalore (Karnataka), Kochi, Trichy (Kerala), Okha, Kandla, Valsad and Umargaon (Gujarat).

The vessels, built by a Malaysian company, Gold Bridge, can stay at sea for up to three days. The category I vessels are air-conditioned, 20 metres in length and can attain speeds of up to 25 knots, Jha said.

The category III vessels, built by a Singapore company, Brunswyck, are small speed boats measuring between six to nine metres and capable of achieving speeds of up to 35 knots and can remain at sea for up to 10 hours.

The induction of these vessels comes barely a fortnight after a group of terrorists entered Mumbai unobtrusively from the Arabian Sea and created mayhem for almost three days in which over 170 people lost their lives and nearly 300 others were injured.

“As an enforcement agency we are continuously faced with new challenges and complexities and the greatest challenge is to augment our capacity to respond effectively to those seeking to breach our coasts,” Jha said while commissioning the vessels.

The government will acquire another 24 such vessels over the next 15 months from Gold Bridge, he added.

In addition, a contract has been signed to acquire advanced patrol vessels in the category II, which are 13.5 metres long with a speed of 40 knots. Equipped with sophisticated communication and navigational aids like radar, GPS, satellite communication, VHF and other equipment, these shall be built by Bahrain’s Al Dhaen Craft, Jha said.

In the first phase of this programme, surveillance on the west coast shall be beefed on the coastal states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala.

India has a total coastline measuring 7,600 km.

The new vessels shall also augments efforts to monitor smuggling activities, narcotics trade through the sea, sneaking in arms and ammunition, apart from checking potential terrorist threat and bio-security threats.

The three large vessels commissioned today are named “Ila”, “Chitra”, and “Kaushalya” after the former senior women officers who served the customs department.

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