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Coast Guard vessel to strengthen surveillance

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GRAND RECEPTION: The Indian Coast Guard’s patrol vessel Ganga Devi, which was rebased from Port Blair to Chennai, receiving a ceremonial welcome at the Chennai Port Trust on Sunday.
GRAND RECEPTION: The Indian Coast Guard’s patrol vessel Ganga Devi, which was rebased from Port Blair to Chennai, receiving a ceremonial welcome at the Chennai Port Trust on Sunday.

Special Correspondent

Ganga Devi has been rebased to Chennai from Andaman

CHENNAI: The Indian Coast Guard on Sunday rebased its inshore patrol vessel Ganga Devi from the Andaman and Nicobar region to Chennai as part of measures to strengthen territorial surveillance off the Tamil Nadu coast.

The vessel, with a hoary past in search and rescue and anti-poaching missions, had to weather over four days of inclement conditions during the journey from Port Blair (its previous berthing location) to sail into a ceremonial welcome at the Chennai Port Trust.

In fact, so bad was the weather en route Chennai that the vessel’s arrival was rescheduled by a day.

The Inshore Patrol Vessel has in the past too weathered many a crisis; but the standout lore associated with the ship is when it missed being hit by the tsunami by a whisker, crew members said.

Among the high points in Ganga Devi’s over 18-year-old history as a patrol vessel are the rescue of Bangladeshi refugees trapped in the choppy seas and interception of Myanmarese poachers off the Andamans, said S.P.S. Basra, Commander, Coast Guard Region (East).

Chennai Port Trust chairman K. Suresh said the port would earmark a 90-m jetty exclusively to berth Ganga Devi, which had been rebased to strengthen coastal security following the Mumbai terror strikes.

Noting that the cooperation between CPT and the Coast Guard had grown in recent years, he said the security scenario would be considerably strengthened with the participation of the vessel in patrol missions.

Prithiraj Lochen, commanding-officer of the ship, was among those present at the ceremony.

The 44.9 metre-long Ganga Devi belongs to a class of vessels that are capable of operating at high speeds in shallow territorial waters, Coast Guard officials said.

Equipped with a state-of-the-art communication and navigation system, the vessel would patrol sensitive areas such as the Palk Bay and Mandapam along the east coast.

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