22 Feb , 2014
Achieving maritime safety would entail ensuring that the laws and regulations which govern the operations of sea-borne craft are adhered to. The Indian Coast Guard has so far not been seen to play any role in this area. It has been the exclusive preserve of the Director General of Shipping who operates through the regional Maritime Marine Departments. The situation is quite different with the US Coast Guard which actively monitors this aspect in the US waters. The US Coast Guard boards vessels for wide ranging inspections including the conduct of safety drills. Vessels found deficient in any area are liable to be detained. Serious infringement can lead to imposition of penalties. They also keep a historic record of such inspections which classifies ships according to country of registry, the company to which she belongs and the result of inspections. When a higher than normal proportion of ships of a country or a particular company are found to be deficient, the rest of the ships of the country or company are highlighted for more intensive scrutiny.
The very idea of the Indian Coast Guard drew heavily on the well-established model of the US Coast Guard…
In the pre-liberalised era of the 1960s of strict import and foreign exchange controls, extensive seaborne smuggling was a way of life that was a threat to the domestic economy. The Customs with its limited resources could hardly cope and had to call for Navy’s help for patrols and interception. This scenario spawned the formation of a separate paramilitary coastal protection force in the form of the Indian Coast Guard, the very idea of which drew heavily on the well-established model of the US Coast Guard.
The interim Coast Guard came into being on February 01, 1977 with two corvettes and five patrol boats transferred from the Indian Navy and manned by its personnel. The duties and functions of the Coast Guard were formally defined in the Coast Guard Act which was passed by the Parliament on August 18, 1978, and came into immediate effect.
The Indian Coast Guard’s motto is the Sanskrit phrase, “वयम रक्षाम: ” (Vayam Rakshamah) which, in English translates to “We Protect”.