Tuesday, Nov 12, 2002
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By Our Staff Correspondent
The Defence Minister, George Fernandes (second from left), at the induction ceremony of the new Coast Guard patrol vessel, Sarojini Naidu, in Mangalore on Monday. PTI
Inducting the first Fast Patrolling Vessel (FPV), Sarojini Naidu, into the Coast Guard, Western Region here today, Mr. Fernandes said that India had a long coastline and that most parts of the coast were vulnerable and unguarded. The CG presence was, therefore, being increased at all points.
In the tenth CG plan, the Government would augment the strike and interceptor capabilities of the force by providing more interceptor boats, FPVs, Advanced Light Helicopters, high-powered weaponry, and several other security systems with adequate ground support, he said. In addition to CG stations along the western coast, the Government planned to have five boat stations to act as a buffer force.
Mr. Fernandes said the invasion of subversive elements from the seas was causing worry to global economies, as they indulged in narcotics smuggling, gun-running, piracy and other illegal activities. This had given rise to global cooperation in coastal security management through the CGs of different countries. India was a party to the global understanding. About 200 ships passed through the Indian waters everyday and they needed to be protected.
Mr. Fernandes advised manufacturers and suppliers of maritime systems and vessels to ensure timely delivery of equipment, as it would bring down cost escalation and help save additional expenditure by the exchequer and additional tax burden on the people. He urged them to explore the global market for demands from other maritime countries. This would help improve maritime facilities on the home front too.
Appreciating the CG for being technology savvy, Mr. Fernandes said Sarojini Naidu-FPV was the first vessel in its class to have the jet propulsion system for navigation as well as for changing direction at a maximum speed of 35 knots. The ship increased the capabilities of the force in many ways, including those of interception, search, and rescue operations, security to offshore installations, and assistance to the Navy during wartime.
On the Deputy Prime Minister, L. K. Advani's statement that Bangladesh was the "bed of subversive elements," Mr. Fernandes said reports were being studied closely but it was premature to conclude that "groups within that country are backed by the government there." New Delhi needed more evidence and information, which would be for the intelligence agencies to provide, he told presspersons after dedicating the CG vessel.
Questioned about the series of accidents involving Air Force fighters, Mr. Fernandes said the country needed an Advanced Jet Trainer, which would be procured when the need was felt.
But crashes occurred due to technical reasons. He referred to the recent crash of the Jaguar, and said it was one of the finest Air Force planes.
The Director-General of the Coast Guard, O. P. Bansal, said the CG, which was in its silver jubilee year, had contributed towards deterring piracy at sea and arresting poachers in the Indian territorial waters, and helped in the preservation, protection, and control of marine pollution.
It was the national co-ordinating authority for combating oil spills at sea. And the humanitarian service rendered to seafarers had enhanced its image.
The CG was a formidable maritime power with 52 ships and 42 aircraft. The assets were managed by 700 officers and 4,600 other personnel. For every seven persons manning frontline ships and aircraft, only two were ashore to support them.
During the Ninth Plan, the CG had inducted two advanced offshore patrol vessels, six hovercraft, two IBS, seven Dornier aircraft, two Chetak helicopters, and one Advanced Light Helicopter.
It was for the first time in the past 25 years that the CG was holding the commissioning of any CG ship at Mangalore, away from the Goa shipyard where the vessel was built.
The Chairman and Managing Director of the shipyard, Sampathkumar Pillai, said the CGS Sarojini Naidu was equipped with three 35-knot diesel engines, one main jet propulsion thrust unit for navigation, and three other units for changing direction, which made the ship fastest in its class not only for cruising but also for turning.
A similar ship, Durgabai Deshmukh, would be ready for launch in March next.
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