The new JOC at Southern Naval Command, one of the four in the country, set to be operationalised in a fortnight

A permanent joint operations centre (JOC) to synergise and coordinate coastal security operations among stakeholders is set to be operationalised at the Southern Naval Command in a fortnight.

Built at a cost of Rs 4.8 crore, the new JOC is equipped with state-of-the-art communication equipment, hotlines with other central and State agencies and surveillance radar and automatic identification system (AIS) feeds buttressed by back-end infrastructure facilities. While round-the-clock coastal monitoring would be carried out by Navy and Coast Guard personnel manning the centre, it was spacious enough to also house personnel from outside agencies who would be drafted in during operations, coastal security drills and exigencies, Naval sources said.

The command’s makeshift JOC, opened in 2009 to comply with measures taken by the Centre to address security issues along the coast, will shut shop once the full-fledged JOC becomes functional.

“The new JOC, one of the four in the country, will act as the nerve-centre of coastal security operations in the region. This is being set up in accordance with the steps prescribed in the wake of the Mumbai attack in 2008,” Vice-Admiral Satish Soni, the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Naval Command, told The Hindu.

A major step taken by the Centre soon after the Mumbai attack was to re-designate heads of the three naval commands in Mumbai, Vizag and Kochi and the commander-in-chief of the joint Andaman and Nicobar Command as Commanders-in-Chief, Coastal Defence, of their respective regions.

Sources said besides the Navy and the Coast Guard, personnel from the State Police, Port Trusts, Fisheries Department, Customs Department, Light House Authorities and intelligence agencies would man the JOC subject to requirements.

“There will be real-time relay of operational data from the surveillance assets of the Navy and the Coast Guard to the JOC. It will also receive slave imagery from the Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) operated by the Cochin Port Trust,” said a source.

The inception of the twice-a-year coastal security exercise along the Kerala coast, what is now known as ‘Theera Vetta’, played a key role in plugging gaps in security along the State’s coast and brining about greater coordination among various coastal security stakeholders, he said.

Following meetings the Command held with the State Chief Secretary twice a year, the Navy helped other agencies draw up a roadmap for resource augmentation and systematic training of personnel in coastal security missions.

“Some of these agencies are short of adequate resources and trained manpower required for coastal security operations. We have now supported them in formulating guidelines and set up milestones for induction and optimum utilisation of assets,” said Navy sources.

On its part, the Southern Naval Command is planning to shortly induct four more fast-interceptor craft (FIC) to its existing fleet of eight so as to ensure intensive patrolling along Kerala and Lakshadweep coasts.

The FICs, equipped with latest navigation and communication equipment besides AIS and an anti-piracy device called LRAD (long range acoustic device), are being operated by the specialised Sagar Prahari Bal, a force raised after the 26/11 attack.

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