A fast patrol vessel, Mangalore-based Coast Guard Ship Savithribai Phule and two interceptor boats belonging to Coastal Security Police followed CGS Sangram.
The vessels reach about 12 nautical miles (about 20 km) from the shore, when Sangram spots a “smuggling boat” (belonging to coastal security police). In minutes, the CGS approaches the ‘suspected’ boat, its armed men board the boat and take it over.
An officer on CGS Sangram orders the guns to open fire against a dummy target. A gunner manning a heavy machine gun (HMG) opens thundering fire.
Operation against pirates
The Sangram carries a fully automatic 76 mm Auto Mollar gun, light machine guns (LMG) and Insas rifles for its men. It can also carry two twin-engine helicopters or four Chetak helicopters. The ship had just taken part in an operation in which a Somali pirate ship was captured.
The firing was followed by a thrilling display of search and rescue operations (SAR) by Chetak helicopter that has flown in from Goa. A sailor jumps off the helicopter hovering 25 to 30 feet above the the sea. As he struggles in the waters, team members in copter drop a rope to rescue him. The copter also lowers a rope on to Sangram to pick up a bag containing ‘documents’ from the ship.
Follows a flypast by a Dornier that has flown from its base in Kochi. It helps the Coast Guard in anti-pollution and anti-poaching operations besides helping spot/identify pirate vessels.
However, it is the high speed manoeuvres by CGS Savithribai Phule that thrills all the civilians aboard Sangram. The jinks included ‘forming number 8’ in the mid-sea, overtaking the CGS Sangram at high speed (of about 40 nautical miles) and then suddenly taking a U-turn.
The Sangram was commanded by Coast Guard DIG K B L Bhatnagar, and the Savithribai Phule was commanded by Commandant K Murali. Commandant Jha said the exercise, organised as a part of the 34th Indian Coast Guard Day anniversary celebrations, was an attempt to heighten awareness about the activities of the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard of the Western Region monitors surveillance over a coast line of 1,941 kms stretching from Gujrat to Kerala and the 11 islets of Lakshadweep and Minicoy with an Exclusive Economic Zone of 9,73,182 sq km.
Deputy Commissioner Subodh Yadav, Additional DC Prabhakar Sharma and Police Commissioner Seemanth Kumar Singh among other officials and their family members too witnessed the might of the Coast Guards from CGS Sangram.
Old airport may be Coast Guard base
Coast Guard Commandant P S Jha said the Coast Guard has sent a proposal to Mangalore Airport Director to hand over the old airport at Bajpe to them so that helicopters and aircraft belonging to Coast Guard can be stationed in Mangalore. At present, the aircraft have to fly to Mangalore from either Goa or Cochin on call. “The Airport Authority of India (AAI) has given in-principle approval to the proposal,” Commandant Jha said and added that once they get the permission, two Chethak helicopters, two ALH helicopters and two Dornier aircraft would be stationed in Mangalore.