The Indian Coast Guard added ICGS Varad to its fleet recently. This ship is an offshore patrol vessel built by Larsen and Toubro (L&T) and was inducted into service at a ceremony held in Chennai on February 28, 2020.
Union Minister for Shipping, Mansukh Mandaviya did the honors, and the entire ceremony was presided over by the Director-General of the Coast Guard, K Natarajan. The ICGS Varad will be stationed at Paradip in Odisha and will be under the control of the the North-Eastern command of the Coast Guard. The ship is being captained by Commandant Pintu Baig. Under his command will be a crew comprised of 11 officers and 91 personnel.
In 2015, L&T had signed a contract for seven ships of this type. ICGS Varad is number five in the production run. All of their ships were built at the Kattupalli port near Chennai. With the commissioning of ICGS Varad, the Indian Coast Guard will receive its 52nd L&T-built ship.
Interestingly, ICGS Varad was the first ship ever in the Indian Armed Forces to have undergone and passed all sea trials in one sortie.
Here’s all you need to know
1. ICGS Varad is a Vikram-class vessel and is built as part of an INR 1,432 crore contract awarded to Larsen and Toubro in 2015.
2. The ship is another example of a ‘Make in India’ product, with over 60% of all components sourced from indigenous suppliers.
3. An offshore patrol vessel is supposed to carry out the following roles – coastal and offshore patrolling, policing maritime zones, anti-smuggling and anti-piracy operations, search and rescue, disaster relief, anti-pollution operations and limited wartime support.
4. The Varad is 97 meters long, 15 meters wide, has a draft of 3.6 meters (which is also the minimum depth required for operation).
5. The ship displaces 2,140 tons and is capable of a top speed of 26 knots (48 kph).
6. The maximum nautical range is 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km) at a cruising speed of 12-14 knots (22 to 26 kph).
7. The main armament is a 30-mm CRN 91 Naval gun, which is a variant of the automatic cannon used in the Sarath Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
8. The gun fires a 30-mm-diameter shell and can shoot up to 550 rounds per minute.
9. The maximum range of the CRN 91 Naval Gun is 4,000 meters.
10. The weapon can fire both armor piercing and high-explosive shells, but the heavier armor piercing rounds have a shorter range of 2,000 meters.
11. The ICGS Varad also carries two 12.7-mm heavy machine guns, which may most probably be the ‘Prahari’, a license-built version of the Soviet-origin Kord.
12. Both weapons are aided by a Fire Control System.
13. The ICGS Varad also has a helipad (now for the HAL Dhruv) which can support helicopter surveillance, search and rescue and fire support operations.
14. The ICGS Varad features twin propellers that improve reliability and maneuverability.
15. The five-bladed props have been designed for operation in littoral zones, with limited use in blue waters.
16. The ICGS Varad has two engines, both diesel, and rated at up to 12,200 hp or 9,100 kW each.
17. The engines, built by SMT-Pielstick (now Kirloskar-Pielstick), are of the PA6 280 type, and have been used by the French Navy for more than 50 years.
18. The engines are manufactured at the Kirloskar/KOEL plant in Nashik.
19. License-built versions of the SMT-Pielstick PA and PC series are still used by 60-plus navies all over the world.
20. The navigation radar is a Bharat Electronics Limited version of the Decca 1226, a French radar that first saw use in the 1970s.
21. The backup navigation radar system is a BEL-built version of the Decca 1230.
22. Both radars can track objects that are up to 47 km away, and can be used for surface search, too.
23. The vessel is also equipped with a platform management system, an integrated bridge system, a powerful fire-fighting system and an automated power management system.
24. Along with a proposed HAL Dhruv helicopter, the ICGS Varad can also carry four high-speed boats for search and rescue and maritime surveillance operations.
25. The Indian Coast Guard now has 147 ships, which includes interceptor boats, hovercraft, and other types of vessels.
Adreesh Ghoshal is an automobile engineer with a deep interest in defence technology. He lives in Mumbai.
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