Taking steps to enhance coastal security, floating armouries a concern: Navy chief (ROUNDUP)

New Delhi, Dec 3: Stating that floating armouries in the sea pose the threat of a 26/11-like attack, Indian Navy Chief Admiral D. K. Joshi said Tuesday steps are being taken to enhance coastal security.

The navy chief also said that a coastal security bill is being formulated for enhancing coordination among different agencies responsible for ensuring coastal security.

“The floating armouries are a matter of very serious concern. There are security implications, including infiltration of terrorists,” he said at a press conference ahead of Navy Day Dec 4.

“If there are unregulated floating armouries, it can lead to such (Mumbai terror attack) a situation on any soil,” he said in response to a question.

The navy chief said that like the merchant vessels operating under the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) framework, these floating armouries have to be brought under regulation and all the littoral states must be aware of the identity of such ships, the number of weapons and guards present on them.

“A regularisation framework by IMO is needed for these ships,” he said.

His comments come against the backdrop of the recent seizure of the American floating armoury MV Seaman Guard Ohio off the coast of Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu.

The navy chief also said a coastal security bill has been drafted to ensure better coordination between the agencies working in the area.

He said the coastal security situation has improved and the second phase of finetuning the mechanism is underway.

“We are constantly upgrading the infrastructure and working towards augmenting resources. A coastal security bill has also been drafted,” Joshi said.

“The coastal security bill will further enhance multiple agency coordination and center-state coordination,” he said.

The navy chief added that the second phase for enhancing coastal security will include establishment of additional radar stations and deployment of interceptors.

The revamp of India’s coastal security system started post the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

Talking about the sunken submarine INS Sindhurakshak, the admiral said the navy hopes to see it operational again.

The navy chief said the bidding process is on for salvaging the frontline Russian-made Kilo class submarine which sank after a major fire accident Aug 14, killing the 18 crew members on board.

Admiral Joshi said five agencies had initially bid for salvaging INS Sindhurakshak. Of them, two have been shortlisted and invited to submit commercial bids.

On the issue of the accidents, Joshi said the Navy’s track record is “not that bad”.

“I would say that our record is not all that bad. We have had accidents there is no denying but if you compare with other navies…” Joshi said