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Griffon 8000TD hovercraft of the Indian Coast Guard
The Indian Coast Guard ordered a total of six Griffon 8000TD(M) hovercraft from Griffon Hovercraft Ltd, England. Under the terms of the contract, the first two hovercraft (H-181 and H-182) were made in England while the other four (H-183 to H-186) were assembled by Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers in Kolkata from completely knocked down kits. GRSE and Griffon Ltd together won a worldwide tender to supply these hovercraft and the latter has trained personnel from the Indian shipyard and the Indian Coast Guard in operation, servicing and maintenance.
The H-181 has already proved her worth saving the lives of 30 Vietnamese when their ship the MV Lucnam, sank off Sand Heads, Haldia (a port near Kolkata) in July 2001. Couple of these vessels are used for security and patrol duties along the West Bengal coast. Unconfirmed reports suggest that one hovercraft maybe deployed on Pangong Tso lake to patrol the Indo-China border. Each vessel is manned by two officers and twelve sailors. These sailors are of supervisory level trained on mechanical, electrical, aeronautical, gunnery and radar plotting.
India thus become the first country in South Asian Region to acquire hovercraft for protection of its maritime zones. These vessels are capable of patrolling shallow waters, mud flats, back waters, rivers and marshy land to intercept smugglers, terrorists, drug and gun runners. This capability gives the hovercraft a unique characteristic of carrying out amphibious operations. Due to its ability to operate in areas not accessible by conventional vessels, it will significantly enhance the operational capability of the Indian Coast Guard.
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