It was like a scene straight out of a James Bond movie. The Monday morning crowd at Rushikonda Beach were puzzled to see a ‘strange-looking ship’ approaching the beach menacingly.
Water jets gushed out like fountains from the sides of the vessel, and as it halted, it raised a cloud of dust blocking the onlookers’ view. They watched in awe as the Coast Guard personnel told them it was a ‘hovercraft’, which beached at Rushikonda on its way to Haldia port.
“It’s an 8,000 TD series hovercraft built in the United Kingdom (UK). It has two engines and can attain a speed of around 50 knots. The hovercraft, brought by a ship to Chennai, will be based in Haldia,” Commandant Sailesh Gupta, pilot of the hovercraft, said.
“During natural calamities near Sunderbans, the villagers remain confined to their homes making the rescue operation difficult. The hovercraft, which can move in shallow waters and even in marshy lands, is useful in reaching out to them and undertaking rescue operations,” Commandant Gupta said.
“We are making efforts to procure a hovercraft for Visakhapatnam Coast Guard base. The Indian Coast Guard has 12 hovercrafts and they are operated in shallow and strategically important areas,” Commander M.A. Talha, Deputy Inspector General, Coast Guard District, told The Hindu.
It will leave Visakhapatnam coast on Tuesday morning to join the fleet of other crafts for strengthening surveillance on the eastern front of Sandhead and Sunderbans.