Indian Coast Guard (ICG), today, celebrates 39 years of its eventful existence, challenging journey in rendering yeomen service to the nation. The ICG came into existence on 01 Feb 1977, with the enactment of the Coast Guard Act 1978, as a full-fledged independent Armed Force of the Union under the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The Indian Coast Guard is bestowed with the onerous responsibility of protecting our country’s interests in the maritime zones. The multi - mission concept of Coast Guard during peacetime broadly consists of Offshore Security, Search & Rescue, Anti-smuggling, Anti-poaching, Lead Intelligence Agency in maritime borders, Effective Pollution response including those on requests from friendly littoral states, focal point of the anti-piracy in South East Asian countries and timely assistance to civil administration during the disaster relief in addition to patrolling vast expanse of the Exclusive Economic Zone of India.
The demonic events of 26/11 led to a paradigm shift in the role and development of the service. In Feb 2009, the Coast Guard has been assigned additional responsibilities and designated as the authority responsible for Coastal Security in territorial waters including areas to be patrolled by the Coastal Police. The DGICG was designated as the Commander Coastal Command and made responsible for overall coordination between central and state agencies in all matters related to Coastal Security.
The core competence of ICG is operations at sea. ICG operations are continuous 24x7 and thrust in the operational tempo in the Western Region has been achieved by deploying on an average 12 ships per day at sea and five aircraft engaged in 24X7 maritime surveillance. A cumulative 3616 ships days at patrol were clocked at sea to achieve incident free year. Since ships and aircraft are workhorses for ICG, 23 ships have been commissioned in the year gone by, which include one highly sophisticated Pollution Control Vessel, one Offshore Patrol Vessel and 09 Fast Patrol Vessels and 11 Interceptor Boats. Thus taking the force level to 120 ships/boats, Air Cushioned Vessels and 62 Aircraft. In addition, ICG have five Regional Headquarters, 14 District Headquarters, 42 Stations and 10 Air Establishments dotting the entire coastline.
Effectiveness at patrol is achieved by boarding operations at sea. Boarding operations are the most basic yet most effective means of physically ascertaining and counteracting any illegal activity, such as terrorism, gun-running, human trafficking, poaching, transporting contraband, narcotic smuggling, et al. These operations are fraught with immense danger. Great stress has been laid on this arduous evolution with meticulous training and the quantum of physical boarding of all types of vessels by the ICG. This year a total of 14,351 vessels (43 Boarding per day) were boarded in the Western Region.
There has been a shift in focus of the coastal security operations with increased emphasis on surveillance, intelligence gathering and information sharing amongst the various stakeholders to ensure an effective response to any emerging situation. The Indian Coast Guard synergizes its efforts by interacting and closely coordinating with numerous departments of various ministries of the Government of India including intelligence services. This has resulted in apprehension of Pakistani boat ‘Al Yasir’ laden with 232 Kgs of Heroin, worth Rs 6.9 Crores along with 08 crew, Iranian Fishing Boat Barooki with 12 Iranian crew and MV Sevastopol, Russian vessel, left Mumbai anchorage under suspicious circumstances, an arrest warrant was issued against the vessel by the Honourable High Court of Madras on 15 Feb 15. The vessel was traced by CG Dornier aircraft and brought back to Mumbai.
Fishers at sea are our “Eyes and Ears”. They are the first to observe any unlawful activity going on at sea. Continuous and meaningful interaction with our fishing community is yielding good results. Frequent alerts are received at our operational centers from fishing community from all along the coast. This has resulted in apprehension of two Sri Lankan fishing boats and 29 fishers in Lakshadweep Island on 24 October 2015. The Indian Coast Guard has institutionalised awards & certificate of appreciation commencing this year-2016 for their valuable contribution at sea. The fishermen were provided with free life jackets and lifebuoys during the Community Interaction Programme as part of propagation of safety of lives at sea. The ICG has held 393 such interactions this year all along the Western Region.
Successful conduct of Search and Rescue operations over the high seas has been the hallmark of Indian Coast Guard’s efficacy over the years. As the National Maritime Search and Rescue Coordinating Authority (NMSARCA), the Indian Coast Guard has achieved the dual purpose of both effective coordination amongst member agencies and rescue of precious lives. The Indian Coast Guard Western Seaboard has undertaken 75 SAR missions, 27 medical evacuations resulting in saving a total 398 precious lives over the high seas during the year - 2015.
The Western Region has undertaken numerous SAR operation and not to forget the critical rescue of Merchant vessels’ Coastal Pride and Jindal Kamakshi, which was shouldered in the thick of monsoon and adverse weather conditions saving the precious lives at sea and re-assuring the nation of the skills of our ICG. ICG has earned the goodwill of the sea going fraternity by rendering timely assistance to Supply Vessel Vestfonn for fire in engine room by evacuating 28 crew. The swift and apt handling of rescue operation of the ferry boat ‘Navrang’ which was stranded, resulted in saving 78 lives, including 18 children has time and again proved the vision of the competent force…Safer lives…Safer coast…Safer seas.
Further, the unprecedented search efforts for ill-fated Pawan Hans Dauphin helicopter, which crashed into sea on 04 November 15 with two pilots as well as rescue of eight fishermen from FB Sarojini on 25 December by Coast Guard Ship had shown our resilient commitment towards any eventuality at sea. Medical Evacuation (Medevac) operations like MT Karlos, MV Team Spirit, MFB Jalashwa, MV RHL Constantia showcased the timely, efficient movement and the professional approach of the ICG.
The CG Western Seaboard, the sword arm of the ICG, is consistently pushing boundaries to provide seamless and gapless coastal security to the Western Region. The ICG on its 40th raising day re-assures to continue its endeavours at sea towards safety of life and property and protection of the maritime interests of the nation, in the extremely diverse, dynamic, expansive and challenging times and prevailing maritime environment with the motto 'Vayam Rakshamah' which means 'We Protect'.