The 21-metre hovercraft of the Coast Guard that arrived here provided much excitement to people on Panambur beach on Friday afternoon.

A large number of people gathered on the beach to take a close look at the hovercraft. A private FM Radio channel gave away balloons to Coast Guard officers, who released it soon after it arrived.

Tourists, including a few Tibetans, went around the hovercraft and took snaps with sailors and other hovercraft crew members.

This 21-metre long hovercraft, which moves both on sea and land, arrived at 2.30 p.m. from Mumbai.

The Indian Coast Guard has sent this hovercraft on a preliminary mission to survey the 320-km state coastline.

The hovercraft (H-194) first arrived in Karwar where it was stationed for a few days.

It left Karwar around 7 a.m. braving heavy winds close to Murudeshwar. “We could achieve maximum speed of 30 knots though the vessel can travel at 40 knots,” said Commandant Sandeep Safaya, Captain of the hovercraft in which ten sailors and two officers travelled.

The Indian Coast Guard’s hovercraft – a state-of-art air cushion vessel used for surveillance and search and rescue mission – arrived at Panambur beach on Friday. The hovercraft will be open for public viewing for the next five days.

Deputy Inspector General (Indian Coast Guards) Rajmani Sharma said the H-194 hovercraft would be identifying and mapping beaches where hovercrafts could land. Mr. Sharma said 15 acres of land in Bengre had been identified for constructing the hoverport for two vessels to be stationed here.

“We have got the necessary clearances.

We are waiting for the allotment of land in our name for the construction of hoverport,” he said.

Mr. Sharma said the Coast Guard had proposed to have an air enclave (air base) at Bajpe airport that would have hangers and other facilities for Chetak helicopters and surveillance aircraft Dornier.

The Coast Guard had paid Rs. 1.88 crore for the acquisition of 15 acres of land. They were waiting for the District administration to hand over the land, he said.

The Coast Guard will be basing two hovercrafts in Mangalore necessary for surveillance and other operations along Karnataka coastline.

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