Antony asks Coast Guard to keep its fleet mission ready

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New Delhi, Sep 24 (UNI) Defence Minister A K Antony today said perpetrators of terrorism could exploit the vast expanse of oceans for their activities and asked the Indian Coast Guard to ensure that its fleet of ships and aircraft were ''always mission ready''.

Speaking at the inauguration of 27th Commanders' Conference of the Indian Coast Guard here, he said there is a need to embrace contemporary technologies to meet not only present threats, but also prepare for the emerging requirements of the future.

He assured the forces that the Government was committed to supporting the Indian Coast Guard in its endeavour to modernise its existing fleet with new sensors and equipment, as also its new acquisition plans for expansion of the Coast Guard fleet from the national security perspective.

He said despite manpower constraints, the organisation was functioning effectively. ''The growth of manpower needs to be consistent, planned and in consonance with the growth of the Coast Guard fleet of ships and aircraft. I am happy to inform that more than 800 personnel have been added in the recent past, which will definitely help the Coast Guard in its discharge of duties.'' He noted that the Indian Coast Guard has activated three new Stations in past two-three years and said the remaining nine stations as envisaged in XI Coast Guard Plan, based on the Group of Ministers' recommendations, also need to be prioritised and established in a time bound manner.

''Sustained efforts be made to strengthen these stations so that they can effectively perform the tasks for which they have been activated,'' he said and urged the Coast Guard Commanders to adhere to time lines set out in the Coast Guard XI Plan especially with regards acquisitions and infrastructure projects that have been approved and the 15 year Perspective Plan, which is under the consideration of the MoD.

He commended the organisation for undertaking numerous Search and Rescue missions and saving 284 lives at sea during the past year.

He also said the Indian Coast Guard has pursued bilateral co-operation with the Coast Guards of littorals of the region and beyond. ''These strategic partnerships are not only in the common interests of the nations, but also give fillip to Confidence Building Measures. The successful participation of Indian Coast Guard ships and aircraft in joint exercises with Japan, Republic of Korea, Maldives and Royal Oman Police Coast Guard during the past year has resulted in achieving synergy in our operations, greater interoperability, besides mutually benefitting from each other's experience and sharing of best practices,'' he said.

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