Indian coastal security is a sham and now the com-int Spying vessel MV Seaman Guard Ohio (IMO 8410691) has exposed all the chinks in our coastal security plan if at all if it exists.That this ship is loaded with ELINT and COM-INT gear which is not even recognizable to our coast guard personnel is known to these guys who were spinning a yarn of providing security to Mother ships against pirates!!!They were spying for nearly 50 days around our coast including a shore visit to Kochi on 23 rd august(when it got a weapon free certificate!) and illegal refueling is now known. But the coast guard were only thinking about arms in the ship which were on board when intercepted recently but not about COMINT and ELINT spying near our nuke plant at Koodankulam. Are they trained to detect this type of sophisticated spying or about cyber security or about Stuxnet Virus which disabled the Iranian nuke plants? Disabling Indian nuke plant or creating a mini accident is the aim of the Permanent Five of UN who do not want a new Nuke power.They will go to any length to sabotage our (unguarded by IAEA)Nuclear plants like at Kalpakkam should be known to our Coast guard. But then they do not even know how to identify these sophisticated equipment. But it suits all who are supposed to be responsible for our coastal security. The Deputy NSA even gave a statement that if the Pirate ship was out of 20 miles from our coast, then it is not committing any offence! Will Deputy NSA say the same thing if the ship has been Chinese or a Pakistani submarine!!! What is worrying is that this ship was doing spying work when operation Amla was on from Chennai to Kanya kumari under the leadership of Coast guard and Tamilnadu police. The Superintendent of Police entered the Port around 11.30 a.m. and inquired with the crew and armed guards on board the vessel Advent Ohio about the incident. After preliminary investigation by the Coast Guard, agencies including Tamil Nadu Coastal Security Group, Intelligence Bureau and the ‘Q’ branch police conducted investigations. Besides, National Investigation Agency was also involved in the probe into the detention of the vessel with the crew. Customs (Preventive) would take up further investigation. The vessel anchored at berth - II in the Port was being guarded by Central Industrial Security Force personnel. Officials refused to reveals details of the investigation. WOW, how many cooks in this broth without any accountability!!
.Advant fort Texas and Advant fort Ohio were intercepted by Eritrrea authorities for violating its maritime boundary in 2011 but they had no arms except sophisticated commo equipment. It also operated recently from port Galle of Sri Lanka. What it was doing in Sri Lanka is a mystery.
It is only in 2011 that MT Pavit a ship without lights drifted into Juhu Veersova beach without knowledge of coast guard or Mumbai coastal police.That the SAAB radar which is supposed to locate these type of ships did not even detect this ship. Then MV Freedom a 10,000 ton ship narrowly missed Juhu link to the mainland without any one knowing about this.The rescue of a distress vessel and their crew near Madras beach by fishermen with their catamaran when coast guard personnel could not even think of rescuing either the vessel or their personnel who were only 5 KM from the shore due their lack of capacity in swimming in rough sea.
The Defence Minister Shri AK Antony asked government agencies to take up the issue of Private Armed Security Guards on-board Commercial Ships, in International fora such as International Maritime Organisation. Chairing a meeting on Coastal Security on 12 November 2013 in New Delhi, Shri Antony said the issue has assumed significance in the backdrop of two recent incidents close to Indian Coast. He directed that the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Shipping should come out with a plan of action and regulations on the issue at the earliest. The effort would lead to better regulation on the issue of floating armouries carrying private armed guards and weapons in our maritime zones.But he did not talk aboutEllint or Commint.
India, with vast coastal border of 7516 kms. covering nine coastal States and four Union Territories, poses serious security issues and challenges is the usual refrain.After the Mumbai terror attacks of 26/11, the entire coastal security scenario of the country has been thoroughly reviewed by the Government at various levels. The National Committee on Strengthening Maritime and Coastal Security (NCSMCS) against threats for the coastal security has been constituted under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary. For securing the coastline, police of all coastal States/UTs, State administrations, Indian Navy, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and other Central Ministries are working in coordination. Nevertheless the task of securing India's vast coastline is immense.The proposal of the Coastal Security Scheme (Phase-II), formulated on the basis of vulnerability/gap analysis carried out by the coastal States and UTs in consultation with the Coast Guard was approved by the Government on 24 September 2010 for implementation from 1 April 2011 for a period of five years. The Scheme is expected to provide support to coastal States/Union Territories to upgrade their coastal security apparatus. The financial outlay of the scheme is Rs.115491.20 lakh ($230 mn) for non-recurring component and Rs.42500.00 lakh ($85 mn) for recurring expenditure. The salient features in the proposal include setting up of new 131 coastal police stations equipped with 180 boats, 60 jetties, 35 rigid inflatable boats(12 for Lakshadweep and 23 for A&N islands only), 10 large vessels (for A&N Islands only), 131 four wheelers and 242 motorcycles. A special provision of 60 jetties with up-gradation of the existing ones has been made in the new Coastal Security Scheme (Phase-II). There are 12 major ports and around 200 minor ports in the country. The 12 major ports are International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) compliant and are subject to security audit once in two years. However, there is no such mechanism of security audit for the non-major ports. Apart from 12 major ports, 53 minor/non-major ports and 5 shipyards in the country are ISPS compliant. But then as MV Pavit and MV Freedom has shown, even Mumbai port is not technically ISPS compliant in actual practice.
Key projects that have been initiated over the last one and half year include
• Fast patrol vessels (14 Nos.)
• Interceptor Boats (20 Nos.)
• Offshore Patrol Vessels (7 Nos.)
• Fast Interceptor Crafts (hiring) (2 Nos.)
• Coast Guard Maritime Patrol Aircraft (6 Nos.)
• Procurement of Coastal Surveillance Radars (120 Units)
• Creation of the National Maritime Domain Awareness Grid (MDA)
• Procurement of 6 light helicopters for Surveillance and reconnaissance.
• Sensors for Directorate of Lighthouses and Light ships order for coastal sensors (Awarded to SAAB – November 2010– $11 mn)
Who are all NOT responsible for our coastal security?
1. Indian Navy is meant for only for all the Blue sea like Malacca straits etc etc and conducting Naval exercises.
2.Indian coast guard is responsible only for the brown sea though in 2012 security review Defense Minister Antony made it responsible for coastal security under overall supervision of Indian navy but this time in 2013 he is talking about Home Ministry and DG (Shipping) alone should share the responsibility for Indian coast while spending huge money on this coastal force.
3.Port trust of India is responsible only for trade and shipping facilities at 13 Major ports
4.Directorate of Light houses and Light ships which controls SAAB coastal radar sensors has responsibility but I am not able to understand how it uses the radars which seems to cover only2 NMs from coast!!!
5.Indian Customs (preventive) for prevention of smuggling and now it has to share the smugglers and their corruption with may be coast guard.
6.Sagar Prahari Bal with 80 Fast attack patrol boats with 1000 personnel which is supposed to protect only the Indian navy’s assets in the shore.
Then who is responsible for Coastal security? It is the ordinary police stations of the state who have established Coastal police stations. But when it comes to attending Seminars in foreign countries about Coastal security or any other related interesting aspect, then the Indian navy and coast guard will step in without of course the responsibility.The Intelligence Burreau, NIA, CISF, RAW will all come in whithout any responsibility and roughshod over the Coastal Police station whose lowly sub inspector has to be at the beck and call of his bosses in State and District HQtrs who alone will interact with the Media.
Another factor undermining the effectiveness of the coastal security mechanism is differing perceptions among various stakeholders about their roles in ensuring coastal security. Curiously, every agency that is engaged in coastal security feels that the task is an additional responsibility that has been thrust upon it. For instance, many in the Navy contend that its principal duty is to defend the country during wars and enhance its blue water capabilities rather than carry out law enforcement duties for which it has neither the training nor the assets. Some naval officials also feel that they have been assigned responsibility without power and demand the establishment of a single point authority vested in their service. In the case of the Coast Guard, officials argue that their principal mandate includes only search and rescue, aid to navigation and pollution control at sea, not coastal security duties. Likewise, the Marine Police and Customs assert that they do not have the wherewithal and, more importantly, the mindset to perform coastal security duties. Some of the coastal states have not yet accorded coastal security any priority as they do not perceive any threats from the sea. Most argue that coastal security should be the responsibility of the Centre since they do not have the resources to raise additional manpower, boats, fuel and other infrastructure required for securing the coasts. This indifferent attitude towards coastal security percolates down to the district and sub-division levels resulting in their poor participation in various coastal security coordination meetings and thereby adversely affecting information sharing and coordination at the ground level.
The National Automatic Identification System (NAIS) chain, inaugurated in August 2012, to track and monitor vessels by receiving feeds from AIS transponders installed in sailing vessels. The data generated by the static radar chain and the AIS sensors are being integrated with the data from the Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) installed in all major ports as well as in the Gulfs of Kutch and Khambhat and these are being shared with all agencies through the centralized National Command Communication Control and Intelligence Network (NC3I). But again MV Pavit and MV Freedom have exposed chink in this chain.
Then what is the solution? there must be atleast 50% reservation in Coast guard for youngsters from West Bengal,Orissa, Andhra Pradesh,Tamilnadu,Kerala,Maharashtra ,Goa and Gujerat and ofcourse Union territories along the coast Finally it is the fishermen Under Coast guard supervision who should ensure coastal security and it is they who should be trained .Nobody should be posted to coastal Police stations who cannot swim in Sea. All coast guard personnel should be taught about Nuclear security, COM-INT AND ELINT. The recent landing of a fibre boat in Tamilnadu coast close to kalpakkam and leaving a single person who surrendered t the local police shows how coastal radar is just a big hole.It just cannot detect fibre boats or rubber dinghies as used by 26/11 terrorists who used one to land in Mumbai coast.They were accosted by a fisher woman but then she did not know how to get any help or inform some one in authority and so kept quiet.
Hope in the next Coastal security conference some of these issues are discussed with prominence given to sub inspectors and constables who man the coastal police stations and also some fishermen from all the coastal states along with Naval top brass and other Home ministry officials, NIA, Intelligence burea,Custom officials, Light house officials, etc etc.