CHENNAI: The Coast Guard will expand its fleet to 200 vessels by 2022 and has plans to set up two new aviation units in Thoothukudi and Puducherry this year, according to Additional Director-General of Coast Guard YSR Murthy.
Murthy, whose wife Jyoti launched the first offshore patrol vessel ‘Vikram’ built at L&T Shipyard in Kattupalli here, said that the Coast Guard had set up funds of Rs 32,000 crore for 2017-2022 when the fleet strength would increase from 130 vessels and 62 aircraft to 200 vessels and 100 aircraft. He said that the aviation unit in Puducherry would cater to helicopters while the one in Thoothukudi will cater to fixed wing operation.
Recounting his experience with earlier OPV Vikram, he said the new OPV was an avatar of Vikram, which had a helipad and hangar for Chetak helicopters. This vessel will not have bow thurster unlike the earlier Vikram.
However, it will have hangars for advanced light helicopter (ALH). He said that 16 ALHs were likely to join Indian Coast Guard by 2018.
On the OPV, he said it is 97 metres long, 15 metres wide and has 3.6m draught and 2,140 tonnes displacement with a sustained speed of 26 knots.
The L&T was entrusted by the Defence Ministry in March 2015 with the job of designing and building seen OPVs for an order value of Rs 1,432 crore. The order stipulated delivery of first the OPV within 36 months from signing of the contract, that is March 2018 and subsequent vessels at intervals of six months.
It is learnt that all the OPVs will be handed over ahead of contracted delivery dates. The vessel is 60 to 65 per cent indigenised with engines being imported, said Larsen and Toubro Ship Building Managing Director and CEO B Kannan. He said that it was the first-ever defence vessel entirely developed in-house and built in a private shipyard.
The vessel is equipped with modern weapon and state-of-the-art radar systems for day-and-night surveillance patrol, search and rescue and in pollution response operations in exclusive economic zones of the country. The ship is fitted with one 30 mm automatic gun and two 12.7 mm gun with fire control systems.
Patil said that the shipyard is also taking medium refit and repairs of Naval and Coast Guard vessels. Currently, INS Darshak, a naval survey vessel, is undergoing refitting at the Kattupalli shipyard. L&T has delivered six refit defence vessels from Kattupalli so far.
Expansion on the cards
The Coast Guard had set aside funding worth D32,000 crore for 2017-2022 for the purpose of increasing its fleet strength to 200 vessels and 100 aircraft. It currently has 130 vessels and 62 aircraft at its disposal.
The Indian Coast Guard is also set to receive 16 Advanced Light Helicopters by next year.