Stating that the Centre was paying special attention to build the capacity and capability of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) to tackle emerging maritime challenges, Director General of ICG Vice-Admiral M.P. Muralidharan has said the force was poised to grow to more than 150 vessels and 100 aircraft by 2018.

Addressing after commissioning the Air Cushion Vehicle (ACV) Hovercraft 190 — the fourth of the series of 12 ACVs designed and built by UK-based Griffon Hoverwork Ltd — at Mandapam Coast Guard station on Tuesday, he said the process of strengthening the ICG to meet the challenges had received undivided attention of the Union Government.

“Our nation’s growing maritime interest, apart from traditional aspects of trade and fisheries, has grown to include offshore assets, other than sea-based resources that need to be protected and preserved in furthering the national goals,” he said.

The ICG which made a humble beginning in 1977 with two ships and five boats, now has 80 vessels and 56 aircraft. “The force is poised to grow to over 150 vessels and 100 aircraft by 2018,” he said. In the last two or three years, the ICG had established 17 new stations and set to have 42 stations in a few months’ time, he added.

The ICG had added a regional headquarters in Kolkata and it was now looked after by five regions, he said.

While enhancing surveillance and ensuring effective maritime domain awareness, the ICG has established the Coastal Service Network in the mainland and work on the island territories is to be completed. “The aim of setting up the network is to create real-time surveillance system which can be monitored even from remote locations,” he said.

Speaking on the occasion, Inspector General S.P.Sharma, Commander, Coast Guard Region (East), said the eastern region was responsible for maintaining surveillance along 2714 km of coastline and 4.45 lakh sq km of exclusive economic zone.

Pointing out that the responsibilities of the Coast Guard have increased manifold in the recent times, due to the dynamic maritime security matrix, he exhorted the new craft’s crew to make full use of the machinery and equipment on board to deliver the best results.

District Collector K.Nanthakumar and Mandapam station commandant H.Harish More were present.

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