The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) in a series of Annual Maritime Search and Rescue (M-SAR) Meetings, conducted its 20th National Maritime Search and Rescue (NMSAR) Board meeting at Kevadia in the Narmada district of Gujarat on Friday.
The apex level meeting was chaired by Director General VS Pathania, President’s Tatrakshak Medal (PTM), Tatrakshak Medal (TM), Director General Indian Coast Guard and the Chairman of the National Maritime Search and Rescue Board.
The Chairman in his inaugural address highlighted various initiatives undertaken by the Indian Coast Guard in coordination with other stakeholders and resource agencies for strengthening the M-SAR services under the aegis of the Board.
“The NMSAR Board comprising 31 members from various central ministries and agencies, members of armed forces, and all Coastal States and Union Territories meets annually to discuss the policy issues. In the meeting, guidelines and procedures are formulated, to assess the efficacy of the National Maritime Search and Rescue Plans and services for the mariners and the fishermen, in the vast 4.6 million sq km of the Indian Search and Rescue Region (ISRR),” read an official statement.
During the meeting, Director General VS Pathania launched the ‘National Maritime Search and Rescue Plan-2022’ which serves as the policy document for all the participating agencies and stakeholders for directing an integrated and coordinated approach towards the functioning of the M-SAR system. The policy document is aimed towards the capacity and capability building of SAR services in India.
The Search and Rescue Aid Tool-Integrated (SARAT-I) software version 1.0 which has been developed jointly by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) was also launched.
The software has been designed to integrate the depiction of the most probable area during an aeronautical contingency over the sea. The software uses the line-datum probability algorithm to show the exact location. The software is aimed to aid the search for missing aircraft, after losing contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC) or the Shore-based RADAR.
Apart from deliberations on various maritime safety issues and identifying areas of improvement of SAR services through policy framework and awareness programmes, technical presentations were also delivered by the subject experts from the Indian Coast Guard (ICG), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Maharashtra State Fisheries and Karnataka State Fisheries followed by brainstorming sessions and discussions on Agenda Points from the stakeholders.
The NMSAR Board during its annual meeting also recognised the SAR efforts of merchant mariners, Government-Owned Vessels, Ashore units and Fishermen every year taking account of the courageous act of rendering assistance to the distressed entities at sea in various capacities.
“During the award ceremony, the SAR award for the year 2021-22 was conferred by the Chairman under four categories: SAR awards for the Merchant Vessel, SAR award for the Fishermen, SAR award for the Government Owned Unit and SAR award for Ashore Unit,” added the statement.
The SAR Award for Merchant Vessel was jointly conferred to Indian flagged vessel MV Santiago and a Panama Flagged vessel MV Alliance.
The SAR award for fishermen was given to Mr Ram Das, Master of the West Bengal registered fishing Boat Krishna Narayan.
Further, the SAR award for the Government owned unit was jointly awarded to ICG Ship Anmol and MFV Blufin of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep administration.
The SAR Award for the Ashore Unit was received by Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) for prompt rescue coordination efforts on behalf of its sub-unit VTS Khambhat.
The Chairman in his closing remarks appreciated the collaborative efforts by each stakeholder towards the common objective of providing a safer maritime environment for seafarers in the Area of Responsibility.