Kerala: Guardian of the west coast, Samar, to sail into sunset

Samar, which was based under the operational command of Coast Guard West region, was re-based to Kochi in 2009.
Indian Coast Guard ship Samar, which will be decommissioned on Saturday
Indian Coast Guard ship Samar, which will be decommissioned on Saturday

KOCHI: As the sun descended into the horizon, painting the sky in brilliant hues of pink and orange, Prabhakaran Paleri climbed onto the deck of Samar. Staring at the glowing ball of fire, memories came rushing to his mind. It was Prabhakaran who commanded the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) ship as it sailed out of Goa shipyard on February 14, 1996, the day when it was commissioned by then prime minister P V Narasimha Rao.

Prabhakaran had arrived in Kochi on Friday to witness the decommissioning of Samar. At 4:30 pm on Saturday, Samar, the grand vessel which guarded the country’s maritime boundary in the west coast for 27 years, will sail into the sunset. 

Prabhakaran, who retired from service as director general of the ICG in 2006, is currently emeritus professor at the Rashtriya Raksha University.

“I had returned from the US after attending a special course on national security strategy at the National Defense University, when I was hand-picked to oversee the construction of Samar. Later I was made the first commanding officer of the vessel and I still remember the day when we set sail to guard the country’s maritime border.

Prabhakaran Paleri 
Prabhakaran Paleri 

I commanded the ship for one-and-a-half years. We patrolled the sea and enforced maritime laws in our neighbourhood,” reminisced Prabhakaran.

“Samar is an advanced offshore patrol vessel and is the first-of-its-class to be indigenously built. Building a ship of its class for maritime law enforcement was not an easy task and the former PM had appreciated our efforts to realise the dream,” he said. An alumnus of Regional Engineering College Calicut (now NITC), Prabhakaran commanded 10 ships during his illustrious career.

Samar, which was based under the operational command of Coast Guard West region, was re-based to Kochi in 2009. The ship guarded the maritime borders for 54,000 hours and sailed 5,68,700 nautical miles.
Samar had participated in medical evacuation, search and rescue operations and repatriation of Myanmarese. It participated in 20 joint exercises with foreign vessels and extended mechanical assistance to foreign vessels at sea. Samar had helped the Coast Guard in the detention of 10 vessels which were found operating illegally in India waters. 

The vessel played a key role in apprehending 28 pirates. Samar was deployed on overseas missions 12 times and had participated in the presidential fleet review and international fleet review. On Saturday, Additional Director General of ICG S Paramesh will be the chief guest at the decommissioning ceremony.

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