The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has inducted a new hovercraft into service and it will be based at Okha in Gujarat.
The hovercraft, H-187, is the first in the series of 12 Air Cushion Vehicles (ACVs) that were designed and are being built by Griffon Hoverwork Limited in the United Kingdom.
The first craft was commissioned by ICG Director General Vice Admiral MP Muralidharan at a function held at Okha's ICG base.
The commissioning ceremony was witnessed by ICG Deputy Inspector General BS Yadav, Commander Coast Guard Region (North-West), and other dignitaries from both the Indian central and Gujarat state governments.
The 21-metre-long ACV displaces 31 tonnes and can achieve a maximum speed of 45 knots. The ACV is capable of undertaking multifarious tasks such as surveillance, interdiction, search and rescue and rendering assistance to small boats and craft in distress at sea.
H-187 will be under the administrative and operational control of the Commander Coast Guard Region (North-West).
The hovercraft is commanded by Commandant Anurag Kaushik, who is a communication specialist. The hovercraft has a crew of two officers and 11 personnel.
ICG had about 10 years ago inducted six hovercraft that formed the first fleet of ACVs in the force. Three each of the first lot of ACVs were based in Tamil Nadu and in Gujarat coasts.
However, at one point of time, the ICG was not very happy with the performance of the ACVs and their suitability to Indian conditions. But in the last couple of years, that thinking has changed and more induction of ACVs are likely in the future too to cover the entire stretch of 7,500-km-long Indian coastline, according to ICG officials.
This induction schedule is part of the ICG's plan to increase its both fleet and manpower size by three times before the end of the 2012-17 five-year plan period. Simultaneously, ICG will also increase its infrastructure and number of stations all along the Indian coast, including the island territories of Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands.
The ICG, at present, has a surface fleet strength of about 90 vessels that comprise of Offshore Patrol Vessels, Inshore Patrol Vessels, Fast Patrol Vessels and such.