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Focus must remain on coastal surveillance: General Rawat

Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat while formally commissioning the Indian Coast Guard ship Vajra at a function held at the Chennai Port Trust, in Chennai, Wednesday, March 24, 2021. A PTI Photo

CHENNAI (PTI):  The focus of the Coast Guard must remain on the primary task of coastal surveillance and under no circumstances should the force be diverted from that task, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday.

Synergy among the Navy, Coast Guard and the maritime police in coordination with the local agencies and state governments has become the need of the hour, he said at the commissioning ceremony of the Coast Guard ship 'Vajra' at Chennai Port Trust here.

"We are confident of such improvement and capabilities.

The Coast Guard will be able to safeguard our coastal areas along with other agencies responsible for their assignments," he said

The 'Vajra' is the sixth in the series of the contract awarded by the Ministry of Defence to Larsen and Toubro Shipbuilding Ltd.

As part of commissioning the ship, Rawat unveiled a plaque and a nameboard of the ship during the function.

He said, "The country has a vast and exclusive economic zone, far-flung island territories and a large coastline. It is the preferred partner to most of the nations in the Indian Ocean Region."

"Focus must remain on the primary task and under no circumstances should we divert our forces from their primary role of coastal surveillance and security in ensuring safety of our cargo and making sure there is no piracy on the high seas," he said.

Noting that the Coast Guard and the Navy were instruments in ensuring seas remain safe, he said, "The nation's engagement with the world has seen an exponential growth with various initiatives implemented by the government."

"Today, the Coast Guard is operating 24x7 to safeguard the nation's interest apart from building bridges of confidence at sea," he said.

The Coast Guard must remain vigilant with the available means -- technical as well as human -- thus remaining the most reliable means of ensuring deterrence in the maritime domain, he said.

"Initiatives like the community interaction programmes and safety awareness drive for the fishermen community and making them as eyes and ears to our national cause are pragmatic steps taken by the Coast Guard," he said.

Rawat appreciated the Coast Guard for taking a progressive step in making community interaction to community integration thus giving an opportunity to the fisherfolk joining the service and in turn neutralising their vast seafaring experience towards maritime surveillance and security.

Aimed at enhancing the coastal security, the ship is fitted with highly sophisticated navigation and communication systems.

The ship has a 30-mm gun as main armament and fitted with two 12.7-mm SRCG (Stabilised Remote Controlled Gun) for enhanced fighting efficiency.

Some of the hi-tech features include an integrated bridge system, high-power external fighting system, bow thruster, automated power management system among others.

The ship is designed to carry one twin-engine helicopter with night-flying capabilities and can also carry four high- speed boats, two rigid hull inflatable boats for taking up search and rescue, law enforcement and maritime patrolling.

A pollution response equipment to contain oil spills at sea is fitted in the ship, which is propelled by twin MTU 8000 series engines capable of achieving 26 knots of top speed and endurance of 5,000 nautical miles.

Deputy Inspector General Alex Thomas is the commanding officer of the ship, which would have 14 officers and 88 men.

The ship would be based in Tuticorin under the operational control of the Coast Guard eastern region.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commissioning ceremony was conducted in adherence to the standard operating procedures laid out by the government, including wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing among the participants.

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