With three indigenous Pollution Control Vessels set to be inducted in its fleet by 2008, the Indian Coast Guard will join a select group of maritime force of nations that have special ships to contain sea pollution.
The state-of-the-art vessels will be the first to be inducted in the Indian fleet for checking pollution across the 2.1 million square mile coastline of the country.
The first PCV 'Samudra Prahari' is 94 metres in length and can travel at a speed of 20.5 knots.
"The unique anti-roll stabilisation system in these vessels is the first to be incorporated on any Naval or Coast Guard vessel built in India," said Inspector General A Rajashekhar, Commander, Coast Guard (West region).
The PCVs, that are currently under construction at the ABG shipyard at Dahej in Surat, Gujarat, would be used for containment, recovery, separation and dispersal of pollutants, especially oil.
The design of the vessel is aimed at low-fuel consumption.
The PCVs will also have a helicopter on board that will oversee operations of all kinds.
"The PCVs will have the twin-engine Advanced Light Helicopters on board," Rajashekhar said. "Four of these ALHs have been delivered and they are now undergoing trials," he added.
The commissioning of these ships is of great significance for the Coast Guard, that is the nodal agency for oil spill response in India's Exclusive Economic Zone under the National Oil Disaster Contingency Plan.
Moreover, the increasing cargo traffic on the Western Coast, especially in the Gulf of Kutch region, has made the induction of these ships all the more important.
"The (cargo) traffic has increased phenomenally in the Gulf of Kutch region in the past few years. During the last monsoon, there were 14 groundings of different vessels on the entire Western Coast and grounding of vessels increases the threat of spillage of the oil cargo the ships carry," Rajashekhar said.
Moreover, the Gulf of Kutch has several (coral) reefs and a marine sanctuary. Any oil spill in this region can prove to be disastrous, he said.
"They (the vessels) will be fitted with the latest pollution control equipment, including two rigid sweeping arms, enabling it to contain oil spill whilst in motion. An advanced software would assist in predicting the spread of the complex oil spill pattern," he said.
The vessels are designed to recover the lightest to the most viscous oil at a rate of 300 tonnes per hour.