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How Powerful Is The Indian Coast Guard?

Recently a Pakistani Naval Ship named PNS Alamgir crossed the Indian Maritime Border and entered the Indian Territorial Waters. And the Indian Coast Guard’s surveillance aircraft Dornier 228, which was patrolling there, drove this warship back into its waters. Indian Coast Guard is India’s Maritime Law Enforcement and Search & Rescue Agency. ICG protects its territorial waters including its contiguous and exclusive economic zone from various maritime threats.

So today we will see  

How Powerful Is The Indian Coast Guard?

First of all, we should understand all the roles of the Indian Coast Guard. 

There are 4 Main Roles of the Indian Coast Guard

  1. Law Enforcement
  2. Coastal Patrol & Surveillance
  3. Maritime border protection
  4. Maritime search & rescue

1. Law Enforcement

A main function of the Indian Coast Guard is to bring about legal reconciliation in all the assets falling in the Indian Territorial Waters. In addition, ICG is dedicated to protecting and preserving the maritime ecology and environment, including pollution control. ICG assists the customs department and other authorities in anti-smuggling and anti-piracy-like operations.

2. Coastal Patrol & Surveillance

The Indian Coast Guard is committed to law enforcement and maritime border protection in coastal waters. And for this, ICG officers are always doing surveillance of territorial waters and patrolling coastal areas through air and water.

3. Maritime Border Protection

The Indian Coast Guard prevents all terrorist infiltration through the Maritime Border. It also prevents the maritime forces of neighboring countries from entering the Indian Waters. It also promotes the security cooperation of the Coastal and Sea Borders with organizations such as Coastal Security and the Lead Intelligence Agency (LIA). Moreover, ICG is responsible for the safety and protection of artificial islands, offshore terminals, and other installations.

4. Maritime Search & Rescue

ICG, in collaboration with the National Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Committee (NMSARCA), provides protection and assistance to fishermen and mariners. Apart from this, it also rescues people from any type of accidents or misadventures that happen in the sea.

So far we have understood the roles of the Indian Coast Guard. Now we will discuss the capabilities that help ICG to accomplish these roles.

Read More:- How Would The Indian Navy Look Like In The Next 30 Years?

Types of Equipment For The Indian Coast Guard

These are the weapons and equipment that help the ICG to perform its role in a well-established manner.

1. Aircraft (Dornier DO-228)

The Indian Coast Guard operates 36 aircraft of the 101/201 variant of the Dornier 228 aircraft. The Dornier 228 is a highly versatile multi-purpose light transport aircraft. It has been deployed especially to meet the manifold requirements of utility and commuter transport, third-level services and air-taxi operations, coast guard duties, and maritime surveillance. The fuel capacity of this 19-seater aircraft is 2850 Ltrs (2250 Kg). It can stay in the air for about 10.5 hours at a rate of 213 km/hr. The Indian Coast Guard mainly uses it for surveillance and reconnaissance purposes. 

 Dornier 228 aircraft
Dornier 228 aircraft

2. Helicopters In The Indian Coast Guard

The Indian Coast Guard has a total of 34 helicopters consisting of HAL Dhurva (17) and HAL Chetak (17). They are used as utility and reconnaissance helicopters for search & rescue purposes.

HAL Chetak carrying 2 crew-member passengers max. Speed ​​is 210 km/h. The range of this helicopter is 500 km and the service ceiling is 2,200 m. Also, it can carry a 2,200 kg payload. ICG uses it for commuting, cargo, casualty evacuation, search & rescue (SAR), Aerial survey & patrolling emergency medical services, off-shore operations, and underslung operations.

HAL Chetak
HAL Chetak

On the other hand, the Indian Coast Guard has 3 Mk-3 variants of the Dhurva helicopter. It can carry a 1000 kg payload at a high speed of 291 km/h. It has a range of 630 km and an endurance of 3.75 hours. It has a maximum service ceiling of 6,100 meters, which is twice that of the HAL Chetak, so it is mostly used for reconnaissance purposes.

HAL Dhurv mk 3
HAL Dhruv Mk 3

3. Pollution Control Vessels

ABG shipyard manufactured 3 Samudra-class Pollution Control Vessels serving in the Indian Coast Guard. Their names are Samudra Prahari, Samudra Pehredar, and Samudra Pavak. The maximum speed of these vessels with a displacement of 3946 tons is 48 km/h. And it can stay in the sea without supply for 20 days carrying 10 officers and 100 sailors. Although it is a Pollution Control Vessel, is fitted with a CRN 91 Naval Gun and 2 12.7mm HMG for defensive purposes.

Samudra Class
Samudra Class

4. Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs)

A patrol boat is a relatively small naval vessel generally developed for coastal defense, border protection, immigration, law enforcement, and search & rescue duties. There have been many designs for Patrol boats. An offshore patrol vessel is specially designed for remote sea areas. The Indian coast guard has a total of 27 offshore patrol vessels that are divided into 5 classes.

  1. Samarth Class (11)
  2. Sankalp Class (2)
  3. Samar Class (4)
  4. Vikram Class (7)
  5. Vishwast Class (3)

Above all vessels carry 4-5 high-speed boats and one helicopter with them. Additionally, all types of surface search radars are mounted on them, enhancing their patrolling capability. And these vessels can stay in the sea for 20 days without any replenishment with about one and a half dozen officers and 100 sailors. Apart from this, a naval gun and 2 heavy machine guns are also mounted on it.

5. Fast Patrol Vessels (FPVs)

These patrol vessels are also used for missions like maritime search and rescue, and border protection, similar to offshore patrol vessels. Indian Coast Guard has 4 series of Patrol Vessels.

  1. Aadesh Class (20)
  2. Rajshree Class (14) 
  3. Rani Abbaka Class (5)
  4. Sarojini Naidu Class (7)

They are 10 times lighter in weight than Offshore Patrol Vessels but have twice the speed. Also, the range of these FPVs is less than a third of the OPVs. They are commonly found in various border protection roles, including anti-smuggling, anti-piracy, fisheries patrols, and immigration law enforcement. They are also called upon to participate in rescue operations.

6. Interceptor Boats

Indian Coast Guard has 5 interceptor boat series. Out of which 3 Interceptor Crafts Series and 2 Fast Interceptor Boats Series total 82 Interceptor Boats.

Bharti ClassInterceptor107 tons65 km/h6
Timblo ClassInterceptor7 tons69 km/h10
Bristol ClassInterceptor5 tons64.82 km/h4
L&T ClassFast Interceptor90 tons83 km/h54
ABG ClassFast Interceptor90 tons83.3 km/h13
Interceptor boat series

7. Hovercraft in Indian Coast Guard

The Indian Coast guard operates 18 Griffon-class Hovercrafts. Of which 6 are H-181 (Griffon 8000TD) and 12 other are H-187 (Griffon 8000TD). These are also called air cushion vehicles and ACVs.

Griffon-class Hovercraft
Griffon-class Hovercraft

Integrated Coastal Surveillance System (ICSS)

The Integrated Coastal Surveillance System (ICSS) is India’s coastal surveillance system. It is developed to protect its coastline, ensure regional security and assist friendly navies by quickly detecting, locating, and monitoring maritime activity in the Indian Ocean.

The Indian Navy operates it in collaboration with the Indian Coast Guard. The Indian Coast Guard serves only the Indian territorial waters of the Indian Ocean. In this system, Various radars and sensors operate and send the collected information to the data center. The core of the ICSS is a network of remote ground-based radar stations called the Coastal Surveillance Network (CSN). In addition to radars, stations are also fitted with optical sensors, electro-optical sensors, thermal imagers, cameras, meteorological systems, an Automatic Identification System (AIS), a distress alert transmission system (DATS), electronic warfare support measures, and very high frequency (VHF) radio communication systems.

12 Remote Operating Stations feed information to the four Joint Operations Centres (JOC) at Mumbai, Kochi, Visakhapatnam, and Port Blair. Indian Navy and Coast Guard personnel jointly staffs the JOCs, and also network with personnel from other agencies such as Customs, Intelligence Bureau, and the port authorities. JOCs in turn feed all information to the Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) based in Gurugram Air Force Station, Haryana which is the nodal agency for maritime data fusion. All communications occur in real-time.

These are the components of ICSS that performs various types of roles-

1. Electro-Optical Sights

The Electro-optical sensor system was developed by the Dehradun-based  Instruments Research and Development Establishment (IRDE). It consists of 25 kilometers of ranged optical cameras & thermal images. These sensors are capable of auto-track a vessel as small as 5 meters long.

2. Diver Detection Sonar

Diver detection sonar is an underwater network of sensors. It was developed by the Kochi-based Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL).

3. Indian Automatic Identification System (IAIS)

Dehradun-Based Defence Electronics Application Laboratory (DEAL) developed an automatic identification system and Bharat Electronics (BEL) produced it. It is an automatic tracking system that utilizes transceivers on ships and is used by vessel traffic services (VTS). The actual purpose of AIS was only collision avoidance but many different applications have since developed and continue to be developed. AIS is currently employed for-

  1. Collision Avoidance
  2. Fishing fleet monitoring and Control
  3. Maritime Security
  4. Aids to navigation
  5. Search & Rescue
  6. Accident investigation
  7. Infrastructure Protection
  8. Fleet & Cargo tracking
  9. Statistics & Economics

4. Coastal Surveillance System (CSR)

The Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) based in Bangalore developed Coastal Surveillance Radar (CSR). Coastal Surveillance Radar (CSR) is the prior sensor of ICSS. The radars perform round the clock in all weather and are capable of locating short vessels such as trawlers, sailboats, dhows, and fishing vessels. A single CSR has a maximum range of 50 km and can detect boats with a radar cross-section of 1 square meter within an area of 400 km square. A single coastal surveillance radar can find a ship even among a group of ships in heavy traffic situations up to a total of 1,500 vessels.

Personals in the Indian Coast Guard

The rank nomenclature of officers in the Coast Guard is as same as the rank of Central Armed Police Forces. Officers are deployed in the Coast Guard in one of four branches, as either General-Duty officers, pilots, Technicians, or Law officers. Lady Officers have two branches i.e. General-Duty Officer or Pilot Officer and serve on shore establishments/Air Stations/Headquarters. They are not appointed on board Indian Coast Guard ships.

Enrolled Personnel

Enrolled personnel in the Indian Coast Guard employs as either a yantrik (technician) or navik (sailor).

  • Yantriks are responsible for operating and maintaining mechanical, electrical, or aeronautical instruments and systems on board the Coast Guard ships and aircraft.
  • Naviks may further serve in the General-Duty or Domestic branches. The General-Duty naviks work as sailors, weapon systems operators, communication specialists, divers, etc., or in special maritime or aviation support duties. Domestic branch naviks such as stewards, cooks, etc. on board ICG vessels.

Training of the Indian Coast Guard Officers

Currently, The ICG officers undergo Basic Military Training at the Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala along with their counterpart Navy. This helps in the mutual interchange of Officers among these two sister organizations. While the Indian Coast Guard Academy is under construction in Mangalore, Karnataka.

Indian Coast Guard’s Enrolled personnel are trained along with Indian Naval sailors at the naval training establishment INS Chilka. All training gone by Coast Guard personnel is the same as those undertaken by sailors in the Indian Navy. All trainees are trained in the operation of weapons systems in emergency cases.

How To Join The Indian Coast Guard

Like other branches of the Indian Armed Forces, the exam is also conducted for recruitment to the Indian Coast Guard. The examination for the Indian Coast Guard is conducted in a year. For different posts, one has to pass different stages of examination like written, PET, and medical. There is no application fee for this exam and it is conducted in offline mode.

There are 2 ways to enter the Indian Coast Guard for service –

  1. Officer Entry
  2. Sailor Entry (Yantrik or Navik)

1. Officer Entry

The following officers come in Officers Entry –

  • General duty officer
  • Pilot officer
  • Technician officer
  • Law officer

Here is the senior to junior ranking in the Indian Coast Guard.

  1. Director general
  2. Additional director general
  3. Inspector general
  4. Deputy inspector general
  5. Commandant
  6. Commandant (JG)
  7. Deputy Commandant
  8. Assistant Commandant

In the Indian Coast Guard, you can apply for the Junior Officer rank(Assistant Commandant). Whereas promotion takes place in the rest of the ranks. Different Types of Entries can apply for the Assistant Commandant Post which you can know on the Indian Coast Guard website.

2. Sailor Entry

There are 3 types of entries in Sailor Entry –

  1. Yantrik
  2. Navik (General Duty)
  3. Navik (Domestic branch)

Similar to officer entry, you can apply for the junior rank of these three entries and go through promotion to senior ranks.

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A comprehensive Overview of The ICG’s Capabilities

Territorial water is up to 12 nautical miles from the coastline of any country. Contiguous zone up to 24 nautical miles and Exclusive Economic Zone up to 200 nautical miles. And the Indian Coast Guard operates in the Exclusive Economic Zone up to 200 nautical miles from the Indian coastline. The Exclusive Economic Zone of India is 23,05,143 km².

Currently, The ICG has 46 operational coastal surveillance radars. Of these, 36 are present on the mainland, and the remaining 10 are on the islands Andaman & Nicobar, and Lakshadweep. Apart from this in phase 2, 38 more CSRs and 4 mobile stations will be operational in 2023. After this, the Indian Coast Guard will have 84 CSRs and 4 mobile stations.

So the entire EEZ area of India is about 23.05 lakh km². And to serve an area of 1 lakh km², ICG has the following equipment –

Types of EquipmentNo. of Equipment (Per 1 lakh km²)
Aircraftsmore than 1
Helicoptersmore than 1
Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs)more than 1
Fast Patrol Vessels (FPVs) more than 2
Interceptormore than 3
Hovercraftsless than 1
CSRs (after phase 2 completion) more than 3
Equipment for 1 lakh km² area


In conclusion, the Indian Coast Guard is more powerful than in the past in terms of surveillance radar, air assets, and maritime assets. And these types of equipment make ICG more capable to counter maritime threats and securing Indian territorial waters.


Prem Prakash

I am a defence lover with the skill of writing, not firing.

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