Chennai: The Indian Coast Guard is 100 percent indigenised as all ships and aircraft are made in Indian yards, said Director-General Virender Singh Pathania on Saturday.

"ICG is 100 per cent indigenised as all ships and aircraft whether fixed wing or rotary or smaller vessels, everything is Indian and made in the Indian yards. With Government's support, we are heading towards being Atmanirbhar." Pathania told ANI.

The top Indian Coast Guard official was in Chennai for the tenth edition of the National Maritime Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX -22), which is being attended by foreign observers and friendly foreign countries.

"This edition of the search and rescue exercise that we have today, we had about 51 resource agencies from India itself. We had shipping, fisheries, airport authority, Navy, Air Force, and others participating. And we have 24 representatives from 16 friendly foreign countries," he said.

"This shows that all these people who have friendly relations and concern for the safety of marines at sea have made sure that they're part of us. They actively participated in the seminar and exercise," he said.

Since SAREX is taking place after the Covid pandemic, Pathania did mention that period was difficult but the Indian Coast guard never let its guard down.

"This is a biennial exercise, the pandemic did affect the people on land but we ensured that the security of the nation is not compromised. None of our ships were ever left wanting to be deployed. We did isolate our people when they were deployed to sea that they would come back. It was a difficult time but the guard was never let down," he said.

The 10th edition of the National Maritime Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX -22), was inaugurated today by Dr Ajay Kumar, Defence Secretary, Government of India.

The two-day exercise which is conducted under the aegis of the National Maritime Search and Rescue Board (NMSARB) is hosted by the Indian Coast Guard, the nodal maritime SAR coordinating agency for the Indian Search & Rescue Region (ISRR).

In addition to 51 participants from national Maritime SAR stakeholders, the exercise is being attended by 24 foreign observers from 16 friendly foreign countries. SAREX-22 will be spread over two days (27 and 28 Aug 22) and will validate the Standard Operating Procedures and best practices during the conduct of a Mass Rescue Operation (MRO).

The theme of this edition of the biennial exercise is "Capacity Building Towards Marine Passenger Safety" and signifies the resolve and commitment of the NMSARB and other stakeholder agencies in providing succor during large-scale contingencies within our ISSR and beyond.

On the first day, August 27, the event focused on Table Top exercises, Workshops, and Seminars on issues of passenger safety, preparedness, challenges, and way ahead.

The event culminated with brainstorming sessions and deliberations amongst the national and international participants to mitigate various challenges associated with MRO.

On August 28, the second day of the event, the Sea exercise involving two large-scale contingencies was carried out off Chennai coast with the participation of 16 ICG Ships, one Naval Ship, six ICG aircraft, one Naval ALH, one IAF Helicopter, Passenger Vessel Swarajdweep, one tug from Chennai Port Trust and one boat from the Customs.

The first contingency simulated distress onboard a passenger vessel having 500 pax onboard whereas the second scenario depicted the ditching of a civil aircraft with 200 passengers.

The response matrix in the sea exercise involved various methodologies to evacuate distressed passengers wherein the advent of new-age technology such as the use of remote controlled lifebuoy was demonstrated.

Amongst the air elements used in the sea exercise, the rescue modalities demonstration by the newly inducted Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH-MK-III) highlighted the ease and precision of using state-of-art aircraft in large-scale rescue operations.