On December 1, 2002, Indian Coast Guard (ICG) was presented with the President's Colour by the former President of India, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam in recognition of the services rendered to the Nation. Established on February 1, 1977, by the Coast Guard Act, then Prime Minister Morarji Desai inaugurated the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) on August 19, 1978. With a fleet strength of only seven ships of surveillance in the Indian waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone, the Indian Coast Guard has come a long way as it celebrates its 46th Raising Day on February 1 this year.
An auxiliary service for Maritime Law
Enforcement, Indian Coast Guard undertakes safety and protection tasks in Indian waters including coastal patrol, marine border protection, and marine search and rescue. The Guardians, serving one of the longest and busiest coastlines in the world, are dedicated to protecting the Indian Coast with the motto Vayam Rakshamah — We Protect. Whether it is
rescuing lives at sea from a burning vessel, rescuing fishermen from international maritime boundaries between neighbouring countries or apprehending tons of drugs, the extraordinary gallantry of the ICG has been meeting challenges for safe water across the coastline of 7,516.6 km, touching nine states and four Union territories (UT).
The grand evolution of ICG
From seven surveillance ships at the time of its formation to 45 ingeniously build Aadesh class and Rajshree class Fast Patrol vessels, 67 aircraft, and 16 Advanced Light Helicopters, phase-wise inducted to boost maritime surveillance, ICG continues to serve seamlessly to enforce the nation's water security. The force aims to have 200 ships and 100 twin-engined aircraft in 2023 in its fleet. The evolution of the Coast Guard has been remarkably cost-effective. With the Navy’s help, its manning and training have been extremely economical.
Its anti-poaching operations, its anti-smuggling assistance to the Customs, its pollution-control operations, its protection of endangered marine species like the Olive Ridley turtles on the Orissa coast, its Search and Rescue Operations, its sustained round-the-clock surveillance in the shallow waters of the Palk Bay between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, all have been invaluable.
Commendable Search and Rescue operations
The ICG in the last few years has apprehended over a hundred smuggling vessels, over eight hundred foreign poaching trawlers and over 8,000 of their crew. It has responded to over 50 oil spill incidents and has undertaken over 30 oil spill operations and interdicted over 20,000 illegal immigrant infiltrators. So far, the ICG has flown over 1,100 Search and Rescue sorties and saved over 1,500 lives at sea in over 750 missions since its formation.
One of the historic operational successes of the ICG was in October 1999, with the recapture on the high seas of a Panamanian-registered Japanese cargo ship, MV Alondra Rainbow, hijacked off Indonesia. Her crew were rescued off Phuket, Thailand. The ship had been repainted as MV Mega Rama and was spotted off Kochi, heading towards Pakistan. She was chased by ICGS Tarabai and INS Prahar (K98) of the Indian Navy and apprehended. It was the first successful prosecution of armed pirates in over a century.
During the Kargil War in 1999 and during Operation Parakram in 2002, Coast Guard vessels and aircraft provided invaluable support to the Navy’s operations in the Arabian Sea. In December last year, the ICG in a joint operation with Anti-Terrorism Squad, ATS Gujarat, apprehended a Pakistan fishing boat with 10 crew members smuggling arms, ammunition and 40 kg of narcotics worth Rs 300 crore. “The operation was conducted during the night of December 25-26 on specific intelligence input. The ICG deployed its ship ICGS Arinjay near the notional.
In 2017, ICG was lauded for anti-piracy operations at a conference in Singapore. “There was also a remarkable decrease in the number of incidents of armed robbery in Indian waters,” said Lee Yin Mui, assistant director for research at the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP). “The real-time quick action has resulted in on-site apprehensions of the culprits thus making the Indian waters a safe place for the mariners,” she had said.
The Indian Coast Guard structure
Coast Guard HQ is in New Delhi.
Three Regional Headquarters at Mumbai, Chennai and Port Blair of the Western, Eastern and A&N Regions respectively.
Each regional headquarters has under it district headquarters, Coast Guard Stations, Coast Guard Air Stations and Coast Guard Air Enclaves, Refit and Production Teams, Store Depots, etc:-
The Western region comprises the coastal states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and the union territories of Daman and Diu and Lakshadweep.
The Eastern region comprises the coastal states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Bengal.
The A&N Islands region comprises these two groups of islands. The Regional Headquarters at Port Blair has under it the District Headquarters at Diglipur in the Andaman Islands and at Campbell Bay in the Nicobar Islands.
The Coast Guard Air Station (West) is located at Daman, Coast Guard Air Station (East) is located at Chennai. There are Coast Guard Air Enclaves at Mumbai, Goa, Kolkata and Port Blair.
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