Hovercraft comes calling to Pondy
The hovercraft acquired by the Indian Coast Guard for its station in Puducherry reached here on Monday afternoon.
The H-193, designed and built by a UK firm, made its maiden entry at the Duprayapet beach near the new light house, identified by the administration for the hovercraft base of the Puducherry Indian Coast Guard station.
The vessel was commanded by Commandant Sailesh Gupta and has a crew of two officers and 14 enrolled personnel.
Somasundaram, commandant of ICG station, Puducherry, told Express that the Air Cushion Vehicles (ACV) will be berthed in the area and will undergo several trials before it makes return journey to Chennai.
The hovercraft will be back in January next when all arrangements for its smooth berthing are completed. Another hovercraft, now being readied by the UK firm, will also be stationed here, he added.
The 21-meter-long ACV, which can achieve a maximum speed of 45 knots, would serve as an important arm of the coast guard to further augment the coastal security.
The hovercraft will be used for surveillance, search and rescue and rendering assistance to fishermen in distress at sea.
The vessel was brought here from Chennai on a trial basis to make an operational assessment of the site allotted by the Puducherry government. The Commandant had already visited the area two weeks ago and surveyed the area, Somasundaram said.
The coast guard had hovercraft stationed at Mandapam (Tamil Nadu), Haldia (West Bengal) and Okha (Gujarat). The hovercraft, which reached here around noon, made attempts to make a berth on the shore. But the initial efforts failed due to sand, which was accumulated in the area. An earth removing vehicle (Boclain) was brought in to remove the sand and make it slope to aid the berthing of the vessel. The arrival of the vessel attracted many fishermen, who were eager to have a glance. The strong rear propellers “poured sand and sea water” at onlookers at bay.
The two hovercraft in Puducherry ICGS will be under the administrative and operational control of the Commander Coast Guard Region (East).