The Indian Coast Guard's Offshore Patrol Vessel ICGS Varad has been commissioned yesterday. It was inducted into service by Union Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya at a function held in the Chennai Port, in presence of Director General of the Coast Guard, K. Natarajan. The ship Varad will be based at Paradip in Odisha, under the operational control of the Coast Guard North Eastern Region.

The 98 meter long vessel has been designed and built by the L&T at its yard at Kattupalli near Chennai, as per the specifications of the Coast Guard. The ship is fitted with modern navigation and communication equipment, sensors and machinery. It is equipped with 30 mm and 12.7 mm guns. It has special onboard features like the Integrated Bridge System, Platform Management System, Automated Power Management System and High Power External Fire-Fighting system.

The ship Varad can carry a twin engine helicopter and four high speed boats for swift boarding operations, search and rescue, law enforcement and maritime patrol. The ship is also capable of carrying pollution response equipment for oil spill response at sea.

ICGS Varad is propelled by two 9100 kilowatt diesel engines and attains a speed up to 26 knots. It can operate without refueling for 5000 nautical miles at a stretch. The ship will be deployed extensively for the surveillance of India's Exclusive Economic Zone and to safeguard the maritime interests of the country.

With ICGS Varad joining the fleet, the Indian Coast Guard will have 147 ships and boats and 62 aircraft. A release by the defence force says, 58 more ships are at various stages of construction at different Indian  shipyards and 16 Advanced Light Helicopters are under production by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bengaluru. ICGS Varad is commanded by Commandant Pintu Bag and has a compliment of 11 officers and 91 men.

Union Shipping Minister Manshuk Mandavia has assured that all facilities would be extended to the Indian Coast Guard at the ports in the country. Speaking after commissioning the Coast Guard offshore patrol vessel ICGS Varad at a function in Chennai today, he said, important amenities like berthing would be granted to the force.

Later, talking to reporters, Minister Mandavia said that over a lakh commercial ships traverse the Indian maritime waters every year and the role of the Coast Guard in ensuring them a hassle-free travel is very crucial. He lauded the force for helping in the country’s maritime activity.

Inspector General of the Coast Guard K. Natarajan said that the youngest Defence Force of the country has the distinction of having all its vessels and aircraft made indigenously.

Mr Natarajan told reporters, the Coast Guard is planning to have a total fleet of 200 ships and a hundred aircraft by 2025. He said, works are going on at a faster pace to build 58 more ships and 16 aircraft.

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