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Mauritius gets Coast Guard vessel on lease

By Our Staff Reporter

CHENNAI, MARCH 23. An Indian Coast Guard vessel was today ``transferred'' to Mauritius, on a five-year free lease, to ``promote maritime interest'' and to ``reinforce the bonds of friendship and cooperation'' between the two countries.

The Coast Guard Commander (East), Commodore R.S. Vasan, formally handed over the vessel, C-139, the ninth of the 10 AMPL class of boats, to Mr. Mahadeo Malloo, Chief Inspector, Mauritius Coast Guard, at a ceremony at West Quay, Chennai Port here.

The vessel, inducted into the Coast Guard in 1997 and based in Chennai, will go a long way in enhancing the capabilities of the Mauritius police, Mr. Malloo told The Hindu. In Mauritius, the responsibilities of the Coast Guard too was vested with the police, he added.

The Rs.1-crore boat, which can achieve a maximum speed of 28 knots, has earned a reputation for its high maneuverability and was best suited for patrolling coastal waters. The boat has been used off the Chennai coast for anti-smuggling, anti-piracy and search and rescue operations.

Mauritius has one offshore patrol vehicle, 10 ships and about 50 smaller crafts. The country's exclusive economic zone extends for about 1.8 million square km. ``Both our countries share a strong bond of friendship. Defence cooperation between the two countries can be traced back to the days of formation of the Coast Guard in my country,'' said Mr. Malloo. ``This is the second ship that India is giving us,'' he added. The first ship, INS Amar, was given to Mauritius about three decades ago. Also, the Mauritius Coast Guard's flag ship, Vigilant - an off-shore patrol vessel - was begin repaired and refitted in Mumbai now.

Commodore Vasan said the MoU was signed by a representative of the Ministry of Defence and the Acting High Commissioner of Mauritius on March 22.

He stressed the need for greater cooperation between countries in the region in view of the growing incidents of piracy in the Indian ocean region.

The 44-tonne boat will be transported to Port Louis on March 27 or 28 by a merchant vessel, Impala.

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