Large-scale smuggling along the Western coast had compelled the government to establish the Indian Coast Guard in August 1978 with a mandate to protect the maritime and national interests of the country as well as to assist in antismuggling operations. But the 1993 serial blasts in Mumbai highlighted the fact that Coast Guard alone cannot safeguard the coasts. The Indian government then launched a new scheme in August 1993 to cater to the terror challenge and to prevent clandestine landings along the Maharashtra and Gujarat coasts.
It was a three-layer security arrangement involving the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard and a joint patrolling team drawn from personnel belonging to the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, state police, and customs.
The Indian Coast Guard, has set up five coast guard stations along with a regional and a divisional headquarter and is in the process of setting up four more stations.
Another coastal security scheme launched in 2005 involved setting up a series of coastal police stations to strengthen the surveillance infrastructure along the coast. Over the last two years, various measures to strengthen coastal security have begun to be gradually implemented. Indian Navy has assumed the responsibility for coastal security and has set up four Joint Operation Centers ( JOCs) for better coordination.
Warship deployment has gone up by 60-80% and aircraft deployment by 100% for coastal security tasking wherein coastal security operations, exercises and awareness campaigns for fishermen have been conducted. The Indian Coast Guard, likewise, has set up five coast guard stations along with a regional and a divisional headquarter and is in the process of setting up four more stations.
Indian Coast Guard has also inducted several Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), which have helped in stepping up patrolling along the coasts and territorial waters. Similarly, under the coastal security scheme, 73 coastal police stations have been operationalised and an additional 154 police stations are in the process of being established in two phases. Around 204 interceptor boats have been provided to the police stations and their manpower is being enhanced.
Indian Coast Guard: Enhancing coastal security
The major initiatives taken by the Government of India with regards to coastal security are elaborated below. National Maritime Domain Awareness Grid. A futuristic scheme unfolds with the setting – up of the National Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) Grid – which is expected to link up all intelligence agencies, Indian Navy units, coastal police units, Ministries of Agriculture, Shipping, Ports and Departments of Customs and Revenue. This ambitious project has been earmarked with funds up to USD 300 mn with a timeline of 2012-13 for award and commencement of the project.
The approval for the project has been accorded by the Government of India. Coastal Surveillance Project. The total project with its sub-components is approximately USD 3.1 bn. The first phase of the Coastal Surveillance Project involves an indigenously built system by Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), Ghaziabad and BEL, Bangalore.
This phase would involve setting up stations at 46 strategic locations on the Western and the Eastern seaboard which would include radars, electro-optic sights and meteorological sensors mounted on lighthouses or towers to maintain a vigil up to 20 km from the coastline. The project was to commence in Nov 2010 and operational deployment was scheduled from Dec 2010. However, the system has only been demonstrated at two locations and the trial phase has been completed. BEL is anticipating an order of Rs 120 mn for maintenance of these stations.
The second phase of the project involves setting up a chain of 120 coastal surveillance S/X band radars by BEL, Bangalore. M/s TERMA, Denmark has been subcontracted to be a part of the project. The Low Light Level TV (LLLTV) with Charge Coupled Device (CCD) Camera from M/s Obzerve, Canada and Thermal Imager from M/s Cantrop, Israel have been cleared during the Field Evaluation Trials (FET) and the contract negotiations are in progress presently. Other key players competing in this segment for significant work share are M/s Cobham, UK, M/s Thales, UK and M/s Elta Israel.
National Automatic Identification System (NAIS). NAIS chain has been inaugurated in August 2012, to track and monitor vessels by receiving feeds from Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders installed in sailing vessels. The contract was awarded to M/s Saab, Sweden at the cost of USD 11 million. The data generated by the static radar chain and the AIS sensors are being integrated with the data from the Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) installed in all major ports as well as in the Gulfs of Kutch and Khambhat and these are being shared with all agencies through the centralized National Command Communication Control and Intelligence Network (NC3I). All these will go a long way in the helping Indian Coast Guard stay ahead.
However, the largest challenge is in the identification of small vessels which do not comply with AIS regulations. It is estimated that their numbers are close to half a million. The AIS to be fitted has not been identified to date and technology demonstrations by various companies are in progress. Various state governments would do the procurement. The requirement for fitment of an automatic identification system on them is as follows:- (a) Those operating within 2 miles of coast: RFID. (b) Those operating within 12 – 24 miles of coast: Modified AIS. (c) Those operating within 100 miles of coast: Sat Transponder. Identity Cards to Fishermen.
The Government is exploring the latest in surveillance and bio cryptic technologies for identity management and adopting these for use by the various agencies made responsible for securing our maritime borders. A Consortium of Public Sector Undertakings led by BEL have been offered the task of digitisation of data. Director of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture is looking after the case for making and issue of identity cards for the fishermen.
Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB)
The Indian Navy has placed a Rs 300-crore order with a Sri Lankan shipyard for 80 Fast Interceptor Boats (FIB) to equip its SPB, a specialised force, for securing India’s coastal assets. The contract for the boats was signed in the Sept 2011 with M/s Solas Marine, Sri Lanka. The boats are required for plugging the gaps in India’s coastal security that came to light during the Nov 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai.
The shipyard has been asked to deliver the boats by end of 2014 and these will be supplied to the SPB, a special infantry force comprising 98 officers and 902 sailors was raised in 2010. The boats, with a maximum speed of 50 knots, will be used by the SPB personnel for patrol along the coast and for intercepting suspicious vessels closer to vital military and strategic assets of the country. The personnel would be equipped from the existing cadres of Indian Navy. Last year,the Indian Navy had placed an order worth around $ 13.34 million for 15 interceptors with a M/s Chantier Naval Couach, France. All boats of the lot have been inducted for operational service at Mumbai.
Fast Patrol Vessels (FPV)
An order has been placed on M/s CSL Shipyard, Kochi for building of 20- 260 tonnes FPV for Indian Coast Guard at a cost of USD 300 mn. The 50-metre long FPVs will have a speed of 35 knots and would be used for patrolling coastal areas. There is business opportunity in this as M/s CSL Shipyard is in the process of floating tenders for fitment of equipment on these ships.
Water Jet Fast Attack Craft (WJ FAC). M/s GRSE Shipyard, Kolkata to enhance the surveillance capability, has supplied 10 WJFAC having a displacement of 600 tonnes to Indian Navy. The WJ FAC have been based at Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Karwar.
Indian Coast Guard has ordered 12 Griffon 8000TD hovercrafts from M/s GRSE Shipyard, Kokatta for patrolling in creeks. The MoD had awarded a £34 mn contract in July 2010 to M/s Griffon Hoverwork, UK and M/s GRSE Shipyard, Kolkatta for the supply of these hovercrafts, the tenders for which had been issued in November 2009. At 21.3 metres in length and with a payload of eight tonnes, the hovercraft can reach speeds of 45 Knots and is powered by two Iveco diesel engines. The Indian Coast Guard had earlier acquired six hovercrafts in 2001, two of which were built at Griffon Hoverwork, with the following four assembled by GRSE.
Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs)
OPV is the most critical platform for coastal security. The Indian Navy had transferred an OPV, INS Sharayu, to Sri Lanka and converted two out of its total five Sukanya class OPV’s to Dhanush missile firing ships, which divested them of the OPV role’s. Hence an urgent need for more OPVs had arisen post 26/11.
The orders to augment the force levels of OPV which have been placed on various shipyards are as follows:- (a) Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) has received an order for nine OPVs for the Indian Navy. (b) Pipavav Shipyard has been was awarded a contract in 2010 to build five OPVs for the Indian Navy. (c) GSL received an order in mid-2012 for six OPVs for Indian Coast Guard. Aircraft. A case for procurement of six maritime patrol aircraft and seven light helicopter for surveillance and reconnaissance is being initiated by Indian Coast Guard in the near future.
Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is planning to issue $50 Million (Rs 200 crore) worth global tender for procurement of 30 patrolling boats with the endurance of four to five days at sea, for the marine police in different states. These boats are being procured under the Coastal Security Scheme Phase-II and will be distributed among nine coastal states along with four Union Territories. No progress has been reported so far.
For patrolling shallow waters, the Marine Police have been raised in the coastal states and union territories and these have been equipped with interceptor boats and other assets under the Coastal Security Scheme. Phase I of this scheme has been concluded with the setting up of 73 coastal police stations, while Phase II is underway as part of which an additional 131 coastal police stations will be established. The physical security of India’s major ports is being ensured through the deployment of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), whose personnel have been trained in seamanship to handle any threat from the seafront.
The Author , Commander (Retd) Gautam Nanda, is an Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) specialist. He is Vice President, Business Development, Indianeye Security Pvt Ltd.