Coast Guard patrol vessel Abheek inducted into force

Abheek, the second in a series of 20 waterjet-propelled fast patrol vessels being built by the Cochin Shipyard for the Coast Guard, was inducted into the force by Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Tuesday.

CGS Abheek will be commanded by Commandant Manish Kumar Negi and will operate from Chennai under Commander, Coast Guard Region (East). It has a complement of 39 personnel. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Antony said both the Navy and the Coast Guard, which were on an augmentation drive, had almost every warship of theirs constructed indigenously.

Domestic warship construction in public and private sectors was picking up and induction at the rate of five warships each year would happen for the next five years, he said. The Coast Guard in particular was on the right path, becoming the fastest growing organization in the extended MoD (Ministry of Defence) family. “Coastal security continues to be a concern,” he said, adding augmentation of platforms and land assets such as the coastal sensors being put in place in a staggered fashion would ensure an almost non-porous shoreline.

Mr. Antony termed maritime security as a major driver of economy and insisted that more nations were turning to the oceans for sustenance. He said shipbuilding was facing a major crisis worldwide. Only defence shipbuilding market showed promise. Two public sector shipyards, the Hindustan Shipyard and the Goa Shipyard, were in dire straits, without orders sans orders.

Mr. Antony also promised to look into a memorandum submitted by various trade unions of the Cochin Shipyard making a plea for the yard’s inclusion into the competition for construction of four landing platform docks for the Navy. He said a committee constituted by the Centre had recommended Cochin Shipyard’s removal from contention on the grounds that it was building the indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant. “I’ve been with the shipyard since its inception and it is doubtless one of the best yards in the country. So, your plea will be seriously considered,” he said.

Earlier, Union Minister of State for Food and Consumer Affairs K.V. Thomas raised the issue, requesting Mr. Antony’s intervention to grant more shipbuilding orders to Cochin Shipyard.

Vice-Admiral Anurag G. Thapliyal, Director General of Coast Guard, said the force was shouldering greater responsibilities over the past five years. Augmentation of surface and aerial platforms and infrastructure was happening at a fast pace, he said. CGS Abheek, he said, would be ideal for surveillance, interdiction, search and rescue and medical evacuation.

Commodore (retd) K. Subramaniam, Chairman and Managing Director of the yard, said the third vessel in the series was undergoing trials for delivery by January 15. The fourth and the fifth would also be delivered by the end of the financial year, he said.

As for the FPV, he said the vessel attained a top speed of 33 knots on its first outing. The project faced some teething troubles in the initial stages of building, but every challenge was taken as an opportunity. The troubles had been overcome and now the yard had the capability and capacity to take on more work, he said.

CGS Abheek, designed by the Kochi-based Smart Engineering and Design Solutions Ltd (SEDS), has a length of 50 metres and displaces 290 tonnes. The ship has an endurance of 1,500 nautical miles at an economic sped of 13 knots.

It sports a gyro-stabilised 30-mm turret gun besides advanced weapons, navigation and communication systems, which enable it to perform multiple roles like surveillance, interdiction, search and rescue and medical evacuation. The ship boasts an integrated bridge management system and integrated machinery control system. Its fire control system is indigenous.

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