CHENNAI: The fourth in the series of seven 98-meter Offshore patrol vessel (OPV) Varaha, named after the third incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was commissioned by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh here on Wednesday.
Designed and built indigenously by Larsen and Toubro at Kattupuli Port here, the ship is fitted with most advanced state-of-the-art technology, navigation and communication equipment, sensor and machinery. It is also the 50th vessel built by L&T in Chennai since the last nine years.
Speaking on the occasion, the minister said that Varaha, which is designed to carry one twin-engine light helicopter and stage through of twin-engine heavy helicopter with night flying capabilities, will operate from the port of New Mangalore on the West Coast covering up to Kanyakumari and Lakshadweep.
It will be under the operational and administrative control of Commander Coast Guard region (West).
The vessel, which is fitted with 30mm gun and will be fitted with 12.7mm gun with FCS for enhancing the fighting efficiency of the ship, will add to Coast Guard's strength in responding to the threats of maritime terrorism, smuggling and challenges of maritime law enforcement.
The ship, which carries four high-speed boats including two rigid inflatable boats for swift boarding operation, search and rescue, law enforcement and maritime patrol, would be an enabler towards our international and national obligations of providing search and reduce cover to mariners in distress at sea.
The ship, which will be commanded by commandant Dushyabt Kumar and will have a crew of 14 officers and 89 men, is capable of carrying limited pollution response equipment to contain oil spill.
The ship displaces 2100 tonnes and is capable of achieving maximum speed of 26 knots and endurance of 5000 nautical miles and can stay at sea for 20 days without any replenishment.
Tamil Nadu deputy Chief Minister O Paneerselvam, Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, Coast Guard director general Krishnaswamy Natarajan, Director-General of Coastguard, J D Patil, director Larsen and Toubro (Ship Building), vice-admiral B Kannan, managing director L&T Ship Building were also present.
Indian Coast Guard presently has a fleet of 142 ships and boats and 62 aircraft. Further, 65 ships are at various stages of construction at different shipyards in India and 16 Advanced Light Helicopters are under production by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bengaluru. Director-General of Coast Guard Natarajan said the first ALH will be rolled out by HAL by 2020.
He said the aim of Coast Guard is to have 200 ships and 100 aircraft by 2025.
Later, when reporters asked about a letter being sent by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to Home Minister Amit Shah on arms being smuggled into India through Drones and Balakot being reactivated, the Defence Minister said Indian armed forces are fully prepared to deal with any eventuality.