Mumbai: Maritime security was the top priority for the government, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said here yesterday, and called for speeding up delivery of vessels to increase surveillance and secure the country’s long coastline.
“I am aware of the challenges of the shipbuilding industry in the country. The quality of standards achieved by the Cochin shipyard despite the ongoing modernisation programme is indeed commendable.
“I expect focus on shortening the delivery periods by the shipyards in future,” Jaitley said on his maiden visit to the Western Naval Command headquarters here after taking over as defence minister.
On the occasion, he also commissioned two Indian Coast Guard ships — ICGS Achook and ICGS Agrim — and also visited the INS Viraat aircraft carrier.
Pointing out that the security apparatus along the coastline was being strengthened by both the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard, Jaitley said the establishment of coastal surveillance networks was in the final stages of implementation and would soon afford effective protection of the coasts.
The two new vessels would help the Coast Guard boost its efforts in securing the coastline and protecting India’s territorial waters to ensure national prosperity, he added.
While visiting INS Viraat, he was received by Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Robin Dhowan, who briefed him on a wide variety of issues, including the recent salvage of the ill-fated submarine INS Sindhurakshak.
The submarine, which suffered an explosion followed by a fire, killing 18 naval sailors including three officers Aug 14 last year, was retrieved from its watery grave after 10 months, three days ago.