Urgent need to expand, modernise shipbuilding industry: Antony

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Panaji, May 20 (UNI) Defence Minister A K Antony today observed that there was an urgent need to expand, modernise and make the indigenous shipbuilding industry, more cost efficient.

Mr Antony was speaking after commissioning the 5th Coast Guard Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel - ''ICGS Sankalp'' in Goa.

He said modern ships, armed with the latest equipment, capable of providing quick, effective and credible response, are the need of the hour.

The Defence Minister said the Coast Guard has to become a modern and efficient force with a human face.

''The Coast Guard must keep our long coastline under constant surveillance, more so due to the fact that delineation of the continental shelf in 2009, for the exclusive Economic Zones will increase three million square kilometers,'' the minister added.

Mr Antony further said the economic growth has led to a spurt in Maritime trade and commerce and the corresponding growth in Maritime traffic requires a durable and efficient framework of Maritime safety, security, preserving the marine environment, disaster management and law enforcement at the sea.

He said the Indian Coast Guard has discharged its duties with dignity and pride in the three decades of its existence. However, over the years, the duties and responsibilities of the Coast Guard have increased manifold with the increase in Maritime activities like maritime environment protection, providing assistance to ships and crew in distress, casualty or medical evacuation and handling of refugees, Mr Antony observed.

The Defence Minister said commissioning of the ''Sankalp'' into the Coast Guard would further boost its operational capabilities, adding that the ship would contribute not only to fulfill its mandate, but also showcase its capability during the joint exercise in the preservation of the maritime environment in waters of neighbouring countries. He also appreciated Goa Shipyard's competence in building the modern warship.

UNI SRN RN PY RAI2052

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