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Meera Ben enters Coast Guard service

October 06, 2006 13:14 IST

The Coast Guard has inducted a state-of-the-art ship to add punch to the regular scouting and patrolling missions off the Gujarat coast and the International and Maritime Boundary Line.

Inducted at a ceremony at Okha port in Jamnagar district of Gujarat on October 3, the indigenously-built Extra Fast Patrol Vessel, christened Meera Ben, will help in scouting missions as there has been an alarming increase in infiltration of insurgents and drug traffickers from across the border along the Gujarat coast.

"The XFPVs are set to shrink the vast expenses of the Indian Exclusive Economic Zone. The new induction has swelled the Coast Guard's fleet strength in Gujarat to 17 ships and a craft," said a defence officer.

With high speed capabilities (35+ knots) and new generation navigation and communication equipment, Meera Ben will enhance efficiency of the Coast Guard and help intensify patrolling along the Gujarat coast. Its size, speed and prowess also make it a formidable surface platform of deterrence on the seas.

The vessel, which is nearly 50 metres long and has a full displacement of 270 tons, is primarily designed for patrolling, anti-smuggling and anti-terrorist operations. It can also support the Navy during wartime as a coastal convoy escort and a communication link.

One of the most sophisticated vessels of its class, the ship is designed to project the Coast Guard as a leading maritime force in the subcontinent. The electronic chart display integrated systems has been inter-phased with various other equipment and permits navigation at the touch of a button.

Keeping the tradition of naming all new Coast Guard ships after prominent female freedom fighters, or those who are a source of inspiration, the ultra-modern vessel has been named Meera Ben.

Meera Ben was the name Mahatma Gandhi gave to his English disciple Madeleine Slade for her devotion and dedication to India despite being a foreigner. The Indian government bestowed the Padma Bhushan on her in January 1982 in recognition of her invaluable contribution to the freedom struggle.
Haresh Pandya in Rajkot