KOCHI: Taking note of the security lapse that culminated in the theft of electronic equipment onboard India’s first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) Vikrant, which is being constructed by Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL), the Ministry of Defence has for the first time deployed CISF personnel on the flight deck of the vessel.
As per the document issued by the Union Ministry of Defence on March 18, an additional posse of 46 CISF personnel has been deployed at the shipyard exclusively for the IAC. “To prevent future incidents of theft, CCTV cameras have been installed apart from compulsory bio-metric access control for all the personnel, hand-held metal detectors at both gangways, baggage scanning at the main gate, physical frisking of all personnel moving in and out of IAC, armed CISF personnel the flight deck, locking of sensitive compartments and installation of two net barriers,” said the document issued by the Defence Ministry.
According to the ministry, certain commercially off the shelf (COTS) hardware items went missing from Multi-Function Consoles (MFCs) of the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS) onboard the vessel. A senior officer of Kerala Police, who monitored the inquiry, said that inadequate security at Cochin Shipyard paved the way for the theft.
“Initially, the CCTV cameras were placed only to capture the entry of the persons into the IAC. That was insufficient and the cameras could not cover the movement of outsiders inside the IAC. There were only two CCTV cameras that were placed outside the IAC. “Private security personnel were more in number than CISF personnel deployed for the security duty of the ship. During the investigation, the police examined around 5,000 fingerprints but the exercise turned futile as it did not provide any clue. Only a person who is well aware of the facilities inside IAC could orchestrate such a theft,” he said.
Though the NIA had taken over the investigation from the local police, the perpetrators still remain elusive. The NIA also collected evidence from more than 1,000 employees of Cochin Shipyard and collected their fingerprints. An NIA officer said that the agency could not trace the culprit.