Reiterating the importance of Coast Guard in the lives of the citizens, Commandant S V Srikanth, Public Relations Officer, Coast Guard, said that the 2008 Mumbai terror attack had tarnished the institution’s reputation.
“26/11 remains a blot on our institution, which fetched us a bad name, in our illustrious record of service to the nation by patrolling its territorial waters and securing the maritime borders,” he said. The Coast Guard was then among the Armed Forces to be hauled over the coals for its alleged laxity in patrolling activities, when the perpetrators of the attack were said to have slipped through their radars.
A few months later, the same force was at the forefront of protecting India’s interests, perhaps in redemption, by ordering the Italian tanker Enrica Lexie to berth at Cochin port, swiftly after two of its crew members had gunned down hapless Indian fishermen. It is such an agency which is smaller in magnitude than our Armed Forces, yet performs tasks as daunting as the latter, that conducted a sailing regatta in commemoration of its 37th Raising Day, or foundation day, at the Royal Madras Yacht Club on Saturday.
The coastline of Chennai, too, posed similar humongous expectations on the Coast Guard. Virtually every third day, he said, the agency received requests from the local police, to either save or retrieve bodies of those attempting suicide. “We are asked to press our facilities in service for rescue operations, which is no easy task,” the Commandant stated, noting that the Marina, Lighthouse and the Elliot’s Beach were places where they were traditionally engaged in.
This doesn’t mean that the Coast Guard’s contact with the public is limited to rescue or retrieval operations. The organisation – which is split into five divisions and the city being the headquarters for its Eastern Division – has organised and conducted events such as beach volleyball tournaments, cycling expeditions and blood donation camps to name a few. Only recently it conducted a painting competition in city schools, with awareness over marine biosphere being the theme for the same.
The sailing regatta had a total of 12 teams from the defence services and corporate sectors alike, participating on Saturday, the winners of which engaged in the finals yesterday.
Such measures, he opined, were a step in that direction.
Actor Vijay Sethupathy, who enthralled audiences with his performances in the recent box-office hits Pizza and Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kanam, told Express after flagging off the regatta that sports such as sailing made for invigorating experiences. In a statement of frankness, he said. “I do not know anything about sports; such events help me improve my sports quotient.”
Rear Commodore of the 103-year-old RMYC, Chidambaram, spoke about the club’s social activities such as providing training to the children of fishermen.