ICGS Varad: The Indian Coast Guard’s newest ship
The Indian Coast Guard added the ICGS Varad to its fleet recently. This ship is an offshore patrol vessel built by Larsen and Toubro 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 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. The ICGS Varad will carry the number 40.
In 2015, L&T had signed a contract for seven ships of this type. ICGS Varad is number five in the production line. All of their ships were built at the Kattupalli port near Chennai. With the commissioning of the ICGS Varad, the Indian Coast Guard will receive its 52nd L&T-built ship. The offshore-patrol vessel takes its name from an older generation of OPVs decommissioned in 1990.
Interestingly, the ICGS Varad was the first ship ever in the Indian defense forces to have undergone and passed all sea trials in one sortie.
The Varad is the fifth Vikram-class offshore patrol vessel built by Larsen and Toubro. As part of its duties, it will perform the following operations
- Maritime surveillance
- Anti-piracy operations
- Anti-smuggling operations
- Anti-pollution operations
- Search and Rescue
- Limited wartime support
- Disaster relief
- Port inspection
The ship has over 60% made-in-India components and is a result of an INR 1,432 crore deal signed between Larsen and Toubro and the Indian Ministry of Defence.
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).
The ship weighs 2,140 tonnes and is capable of a top speed of 26 knots (48 kph). The maximum nautical range is 5,000 nautical miles (9,300 km) at a cruising speed of 12–14 knots (22 to 26 kph).
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. The gun fires a 30-mm-diameter shell and can shoot up to 550 rounds per minute.
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. Both weapons are aided by a Fire Control System. The Fire Control System (FCS) is built in collaboration with Israel’s Elbit and features a heavy machine gun that can be operated remotely. The targeting systems is via an advanced modular optical sensor suite that can track and engage targets in all weather. The weapon is produced at Ordinance Factory Trichy under the technical name Stabilised Remote Controlled Gun System (SRCG).
The ICGS Varad also has a helipad (now for the HAL Dhruv) which can support helicopter surveillance, search and rescue and fire support operations. HAL had signed a contract worth around Rs. 5126 crores for the supply of 16 ALHs (Fixed Wheel) to the Indian Coast Guard(ICG) in the five-year timeframe in March 2017 to boost the Low-Intensity Maritime Operations (LIMO) and Coast Security capabilities.
The ICGS Varad has two engines, both diesel, and rated at up to 12,200 hp or 9,100 kW each. These engines drive two five-bladed propellers designed for better handling in offshore and coastal waters.
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. 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.
The Indian Coast Guard now has 147 ships, which includes interceptor boats, hovercraft, and other types of vessels.
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