The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is set to strengthen its maritime capabilities along the Western Seaboard by significantly increasing its assets as disclosed by Director General Rakesh Pal. Presently, equipped with 157 Ships and about 78 aircraft, the ICG plans to raise these numbers to 200 ships and 100 aircraft by the end of 2025 or early 2026 pending the finalization deal with the Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL) within the next month.
Expansion Plans for Enhanced Maritime Vigilance
“To overcome all the challenges, the Indian Coast Guard Fleet is adding many ships and aircraft to its fleet. With the current ship count of 157 aircraft and about 78n aircraft, the number will likely increase to 200 Ships and 100 aircraft by the end of 2025 or early 2026 after we sign a deal with Mazagaon Docks Limited within the next month,” said the ICG Director Rakesh Pal. He further underlined the strategic importance of this augmentation, especially given the context of security challenges in the region.
Notably, according to the Global Fire Power ranking, India’s western primary adversary, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan possesses a total of 114 assets. The ICG expansion intent also aligns with the Defence Minister’s broader vision to facilitate the transition of the Indian Navy into a Blue-Water Force capable of operating on a large scale beyond India ‘s coastlines.
Strengthening Maritime Cooperation
Concurrently, the ICG has hosted the 15th Capacity Officers Meeting (CBSOM) in Gujarat, on December 12, 2023. This meeting held from December 11 to December 15, 2023, aimed at strengthening international and regional cooperation to combat maritime piracy.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) serves as a platform to assess the current status of maritime piracy and armed robbery in Asia facilitating the exchange of experiences and the formulation of collaborative strategies among participating nations.
Director General Rakesh Pal, serving as a designated Indian Governor to the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery Against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) inaugurated the four-day meeting. The event witnessed the participation of 19 international delegates from 15 countries alongside representatives from the Indian Navy, major ports, State Maritime Boards, the Director General of Shipping, and other maritime organizations.
According to MoD, ReCAAP stands as a regional government-to-government agreement aimed at intensifying cooperation to curb piracy. India ratified the agreement in 2006 and this has led India to its entry into the force, the ICG shoulders the responsibility of sharing piracy information with member countries and the ReCAAP Sharing Centre in Singapore. Further, as per available data, the ICG has successfully co-hosted Capacity Building workshops with ReCAAP in India in 2011, 2017, and 2019.
These concerted efforts underscore India‘s commitment to fortifying maritime security regions while encouraging international collaboration to address the complex challenges to posed by piracy and armed robbery at sea. As the ICG continues its trajectory towards strengthening its fleet, these strategic endeavors highlight India’s stance in ensuring maritime safety on both of its flanks, the eastern (Bay of Bengal) and the western (Arabian Sea)