Navy carries out first mega coastal defence exercise covering over 7,500 kms of coastline


NEW DELHI: Ten years after the Mumbai terror attack, the Navy on Tuesday launched a first of its kind multi-agency drill, covering the entire 7,516 km-long Indian coastline and exclusive economic zone and involving 13 coastal states and Union Territories to check the efficacy of maritime security and surveillance.

Nearly 150 ships, 40 aircraft and a number of other strategic assets of the Navy and Coast Guard have been deployed as part of the ‘Sea Vigil‘ exercise which is “unprecedented” in its scale and size, Navy officials said.

“The exercise aims to comprehensively and holistically validate the efficacy of the measures taken since the Mumbai terror attack,” Navy Spokesperson Capt. D K Sharma said.

He said the scale of the two-day exercise is unprecedented in terms of the geographical extent, the number of stakeholders involved, the number of units participating and in terms of the objectives to be met.

The Indian Navy and the Coast Guard have taken a series of measures to bolster coastal security after the Mumbai terror attack in which over 166 people including 28 foreigners from 10 nations were killed by a group of Pakistani terrorists.

The terrorists had sneaked into Mumbai through the sea, arriving by boat from Karachi.

Post 26/11, the Indian Navy was designated as the agency responsible for overall maritime security, including offshore and coastal security.

Capt Sharma said the exercise aims to simultaneously activate the coastal security mechanism across all states and Union Territories.

“The exercise will cover a wide frontage covering for the first time in the entire coast of India, including island territories,” he said.

All stakeholders including marine police of various coastal states and fishermen were also involved in the exercise.

Evaluation of critical areas and processes, including inter-agency coordination, information sharing and technical surveillance will be undertaken during the drill.

“Exercise Sea Vigil will provide a realistic assessment of our strengths and weakness and this will certainly help further strengthening of maritime security and in turn national security,” said Capt. Sharma.

The exercise is a build up towards the major theatre level tri-service exercise TROPEX [Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercise] which Indian Navy conducts every two years.

There have been biannual coastal security exercises at the level of states, but for the first time an exercise involving all coastal states, island territories and all central and state agencies is being carried out.

The ‘Sea Vigil’ exercise is also being facilitated by the ministries of Defence, Home Affairs, Shipping, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Fisheries, Customs and state governments.

On the 10th anniversary of the Mumbai attack, navy Chief Adm. Sunil Lanba had said that critical gaps and vulnerabilities in the country’s coastal infrastructure have been addressed, and that a robust surveillance network comprising 42 radar stations linked to a control centre headquartered Gurgaon has been put in place.

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