To counter possible threats from smugglers and terror outfits targeting the Gujarat coast, the Indian Navy has integrated eight coastal radar stations in the state under the National Command Control Communication Intelligence (NC3I) programme. The commissioning of the INS Sardar Patel naval base, with its advanced technology, will enhance the NC3I intelligence network.
The coastal radar stations are located at Porbandar, Dwarka, Mangrol, Gopnath, Diu, Daman, Navadra and the recent one was launched at Hazira. A total of 20 Naval radar stations and 31 Coast Guard radar stations across the country have so far been connected under NC3I. It can track more than 30,000 ships, even those plying in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. There are 11 automatic identification systems (AIS) in Gujarat which have been recently brought under the programme. Automatic identification systems are sensor-based and transmit information to the eight radar stations. These 11 AIS are both on terrain and at sea.
Chief of Naval Staff R K Dhowan, who was attending the commissioning of the INS Sardar Patel, said, “There are eight coastal radar stations of the Navy in Gujarat which have now been brought under this programme. The commissioning of the new Navy base at Porbandar will bring faster intelligence collection, interception and dissemination, bringing in tight coastal security in the state”.
The Naval officials said that the NC3I programme was conceived after the 26/11 attack in Mumbai where a Porbandar-based fishing trawler, Kuber, was hijacked from the high seas by Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists. The officials added that the programme runs on an information system set up in Delhi, as its headquarters called the Information Analysis and Management System (IMAC) that is the nodal centre. According to Naval officers, the IMAC works on satellite and data circuit systems set up at Navy bases across the country. The information, collected from various radars and sensors, is sent to various radar stations though Satcom. The information collected from sensors is compared to assess threats to the coast.
The NC3I programme aids real time operation at sea through detection of targets, aerial surveillance and by making aerial attacks faster. The data collected from radars and AIS system is combined at IMAC. The most helpful feature of the system is to give voice commands, specially to the Coast Guard vessels that carry out operations close to the coast. The 43 ports of Gujarat that are in the high priority list for security by the Navy and Coast Guard would be monitored under this project. The programme has brought the coastal surveillance systems of the Navy and the Coast Guard under one project for better co-ordination.
The programme also covers the radars of the Coast Guard in Gujarat set up at their coastal stations in Okha, Porbandar, Pipavav, Hazira, to name a few. The radars of the Coast Guard that keep watch on the vessels close to the state coast through the AIS transponders will now be aiding NC3I systems while the Coast Guard can also keep track of them.
The Navy officials added that the recent operation, involving a suspicious boat carrying heroin worth Rs 600 crore, was successfully conducted due to timely intelligence gathering.