Adding power to its patrolling capabilities along the Kerala-Lakshadweep coasts, the Southern Naval Command in Kochi will soon get 16 Fast Interceptor Craft.
Of this, four interceptor crafts are expected to reach by the middle of December this year and the remaining will be delivered in batches of four.
Once the project is fully commissioned, the entire Kerala coast up to 50 nautical miles will be under surveillance and tracking 24 hours a day.
The 16 FICs are part of a total 80 craft purchased for Indian Navy from Solas Marine Lanka, a Sri Lanka-based ship manufacturer.
A deal worth more than 61 billion US dollars for the same was signed on October 2011. As per the agreement, the interceptor craft will be delivered within a period of three years. The FICs are expected to add capabilities to the Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB) of the Indian Navy.
“It would be a major force multiplier for the Indian Navy in its patrolling capabilities in the Indian Ocean Region. The FICs will be an addition to the Navy’s coastal security efforts along the Indian coast,” pointed out the officials.
Capable of an approximate speed of 90 km/hr, these craft can reach Lakshadweep island in 4-5 hrs. With a 10-member crew, FICs will have heavy machine guns and radars. These vessels will be stationed at Kochi, Ezhimala and the Lakshadweep islands.
“The coastal surveillance along Kerala and Lakshadweep islands will get a boost with the new interceptor boats. With its high speed, these interceptor craft will be able to intercept any suspicious craft or other objects detected on the radar chain,” sources said.
Post 26/11, a decision was taken to enhance the coastal security efforts in the country. With increasing incidents of piracy off the Lakshadweep islands, the soon-to-be-acquired Fast Interceptor Craft will be an asset to the Navy.
The FICs along with the recently commissioned coastal radar network will ensure the continuous patrolling off the Kerala coast. The recent incident in which two Indian fishermen were reportedly shot dead by personnel at of the Italian merchant ship Enrica Lexie, has also intensified the need for increasing surveillance in the region.