TAMIL NADU

Coast Guard to focus on improving coastal security

CONSTANT VIGIL: Vice-Admiral Anil Chopra, Director General, Coast Guard (right), with Principal Director (operational) K.C. Pande, at a review meeting in Chennai on Thursday. — Photo: R. Ragu

CONSTANT VIGIL: Vice-Admiral Anil Chopra, Director General, Coast Guard (right), with Principal Director (operational) K.C. Pande, at a review meeting in Chennai on Thursday. — Photo: R. Ragu  

Special Correspondent

Modernisation of search, rescue operations on anvil

CHENNAI: Strengthening coastal security and modernisation of search and rescue missions are the twin priorities of the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), Vice Admiral Anil Chopra, ICG Director General, said on Thursday.

Addressing officers at an annual review meeting of the National Maritime Search and Rescue Board (NMSRB), Mr. Chopra said that despite its preoccupation with coastal security, the Indian Coast Guard would “spare no efforts towards ensuring the safety of life and property within the Indian Search and Rescue Region.”

The Indian Coast Guard had recently inked a contract for acquiring 14 twin-engine search and rescue helicopters and sanctioned additional manpower for eight search and rescue sub centres.

Apart from closely liaisoning with Indian littoral States, it was expanding patrolling and rescue mission mechanisms with the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. At present, the partnerships were limited to Japan and Korea, he said.

The ISRO was in the process of donating 1,000 Distress Alert Transmitters (DATs) for distribution among fishermen, Mr. Chopra said. These DAT devices would help track down SOS signals from fishermen in distress, he said.

Reviewing the loopholes in S&R operations, Mr. Chopra called upon the government agencies concerned to ensure registration of beacons to help locate stranded vessels quickly.

The Coast Guard would take up the matter on a priority basis as the proliferation of unregistered beacons and failure to re-register a beacon of a vessel even after it had been flagged to another State was complicating search and rescue efforts, he said. The Coast Guard planned to organise a major search and rescue drill later this year, Mr. Chopra said.

He noted that the drill held jointly with the Airports Authority of India in December had showcased the level of synergy between various agencies.

The Coast Guard which held as paramount the safety of fishermen at sea had embarked on sensitising programmes led by its field formations, Mr. Chopra said.

K. C. Pande, ICG Principal Director (Operations), said the unit constantly endeavoured to adopt safe maritime practices.

The recent “pre arrival notification” introduced by the Director-General of Shipping would go a long way in improving safe practices protocols.

Mr. Pande also stressed the need for strengthening internal and international cooperation mechanisms.

In his presentation on the performance highlights of Search and Rescue operations of 2008, P. Rajesh, ICG Deputy Commandant, said though the number of groundings had significantly come down, there was a needto urgently redress issues such as the use of poorly maintained and ageing mechanised vessels and overloading to bring down accidents at sea.

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