Know About : Indian Coast Guards (ICG)

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The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) protects India’s maritime interests and enforces maritime law, with jurisdiction over the territorial waters of India, including its contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone. The Indian Coast Guard was formally established on 18 August 1978 by the Coast Guard Act, 1978 of the Parliament of India as an independent Armed force of India. It operates under the Ministry of Defence.

The Coast Guard works in close cooperation with the Indian Navy, Customs Department, the Department of Fisheries and the Central and State police forces.


The establishment of the Indian Coast Guard was first proposed by the Indian Navy to provide non-military maritime services to the nation. In the 1960s, sea-borne smuggling of goods was threatening India’s domestic economy. The Indian Customs Department frequently called upon the Indian Navy for assistance with patrol and interception in the anti-smuggling effort.

The Nagchaudhuri Committee was constituted with participation from the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force to study the problem. In August 1971, the committee identified the requirement to patrol India’s vast coastline, set up a registry of offshore fishing vessels in order to identify illegal activity, and establish a capable and well-equipped force to intercept vessels engaged in illegal activities. The committee also looked at the number and nature of the equipment, infrastructure and personnel required to provide those services.

By 1973, India had started a programme to acquire the equipment and started deputing personnel from the Indian Navy for these anti-smuggling and law enforcement tasks, under the provisions of the Maintenance of Internal Security Act. The Indian Navy sensed that the law enforcement nature of these duties diverged from its core mission as a military service. Admiral Sourendra Nath Kohli, then Chief of Naval Staff, hence made a recommendation to the Defence Secretary outlining the need for a separate maritime service to undertake those duties and offering the Navy’s assistance in its establishment. On 31 August 1974, the Defence Secretary submitted a note to the Cabinet Secretary proposing cabinet action on Admiral Kohli’s recommendation.

As a result, in September 1974, the Indian cabinet set up the Rustamji Committee, under the chairmanship of Khusro Faramurz Rustamji, with participation from the Navy, the Air Force and the Department of Revenue to examine gaps in security and law enforcement between the roles of the Indian Navy and the central and state police forces. The discovery of oil off Bombay High further emphasised the need for a maritime law enforcement and protection service. The committee submitted its recommendation for the establishment of the Indian Coast Guard under the Ministry of Defence on 31 July 1975. Bureaucratic wrangling followed, with the Cabinet Secretary making a recommendation to place the service under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi overruled the Cabinet Secretary and decided to accept the original recommendation of the Rustamji Committee to place the service under the Ministry of Defence.

An interim Indian Coast Guard came into being on 1 February 1977, equipped with two small corvettes and five patrol boats transferred from the Navy. The duties and functions of the service were formally defined in the Coast Guard Act, which was passed by India’s parliament on 18 August 1978 and came into immediate effect.

Vice Admiral V A Kamath of the Indian Navy was appointed the founding Director-General. Prime Minister Morarji Desai inspected the Guard of Honour at the service’s inauguration. Vice Admiral Kamath proposed a five-year plan to develop the ICG into a potent force by 1984, but the full potential of this plan was not immediately realised due to an economic resource crunch.

One of the historic operational successes of the ICG occurred in October 1999, with the recapture at high seas of a Panamanian-registered Japanese cargo ship, MV Alondra Rainbow, hijacked off Indonesia. Her crew was rescued off Phuket, Thailand. The ship had been repainted as MV Mega Rama, and was spotted off Kochi, heading towards Pakistan. She was chased by ICGS Tarabai and INS Prahar (K98) of the Indian Navy, and apprehended. It was the first successful prosecution of armed pirates in over a century.

The Indian Coast Guard conducts exercises with the other coast guards of the world. In May 2005, the ICG agreed to establish liaison links with Pakistan’s Maritime Security Agency (PMSA). In 2006, the Indian Coast Guard conducted exercises with its Japanese and Korean counterparts.

After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Indian government initiated a programme to expand the ICG force, assets and infrastructure. The force aims to have 150 ships and 100 twin-engined aircraft by 2020 in its fleet.


Present scenario

Current role

The Indian Coast Guard’s motto is “वयम रक्षामः” (Vayam Rakshamah), which translates from Sanskrit as “We Protect”.

Missions of Indian Coast Guard :

–> Safety and protection of artificial islands, offshore terminals and other installations
–> Protection and assistance to fishermen and mariners at sea
–> Preservation and protection of marine ecology and environment including pollution control
–> Assistance to the Department of Customs and other authorities in anti-smuggling operations
–> Law enforcement in territorial as well as international waters
–> Scientific data collection and support
–> National defence during hostilities (under the operational control of the Indian Navy)

Additional responsibilities of the Indian Coast Guard :

–> Offshore Security Coordination Committee (OSCC) – The Director-General of the Indian Coast Guard is the Chairman of OSCC constituted by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG).
–> National Maritime Search and Rescue Coordinating Authority (NMSARCA) – The Director-General of the Indian Coast Guard is the NMSARCA for executing / coordinating search and rescue (SAR) missions
–> Lead Intelligence Agency (LIA) – For coastal and sea borders
–> Coastal Security – The Director-General of the Indian Coast Guard is the commander of coastal command and is responsible for overall coordination between central and state agencies in all matters relating to coastal security

Leadership and organisation

The Indian Coast Guard organisation is headed by the Director-General (DG ICG) who is located at Coast Guard Headquarters (CGHQ), New Delhi. At CGHQ, he is assisted by four Deputy Director-Generals of the rank of Inspector-General, and other senior officers heading various staff divisions. The current Director-General is Rajendra Singh, PTM, TM.

The Indian Coast Guard has recently got its first three-star rank officer DG Rajendra Singh Director general, PTM, TM, who has the distinction of being the first regular direct entry officer of the Indian Coast Guard to be promoted to the rank of DG on 11 January 2013. Director-General of Indian Coast Guard is equivalent to Vice Admiral of Indian Navy.

The Indian Coast Guard operates five regions. Each region is headed by an officer of the rank of Inspector-General. Each of the regions is further divided into multiple districts, typically covering a coastal state or a union territory.

Coast Guard regions Regional HQ location Regional commander
Western Region (W) Mumbai IG Vijay Chafekar PTM, TM
Eastern Region (E) Chennai IG Rajan Bargotra, TM
North-East Region (NE) Kolkata IG Kuldip Singh Sheoran, PTM, TM
Andaman & Nicobar Region (A&N) Port Blair IG K R Suresh, TM
North-West Region (NW) Gandhinagar IG Rakesh Pal, TM

By the end of 2012, the Indian Coast Guard is on track to operate:

42 Coast Guard Stations
5 Coast Guard Air Stations
10 Coast Guard Air Enclaves


Director General

Director General Rajendra Singh hails from Uttarakhand and has completed his schooling from Mussoorie prior graduating from Dehradun.

The Flag Officer joined the Indian Coast Guard in 1980 when the service was being established. He has, thus been among the pioneers who charted the growth of the organization. The Flag Officer has commanded each class of Coast Guard Ship in service, which includes the Interceptor

rajendra singh dg coast guards
Director General Rajendra Singh

Boat, Inshore Patrol Vessel, Fast Patrol Vessel, Offshore Patrol Vessel and Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel. In the early eighties, when smuggling was as its zenith in Indian waters, he was actively involved in apprehending numerous maritime economic offenders whose activities were inimical to national interest. His sterling efforts were recognized with the award of the Tatrakshak Medal (TM) by the President of India on 15 Aug 1990.

During the course of his illustrious career, the Flag Officer has also trained in the Maritime Search and Rescue (M-SAR) and Maritime Safety with the United State Coast Guard and has attended the National Security Course from the Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy, Mussoorie. Having served in various capacities both ashore and afloat, the Flag Officer has an impeccable track record in the field of Operations, Administration, HR and Policy & Plans as well. During the command of Advanced Offshore Patrol Vessel Sangram, the ship was deployed to the Far East coast of Japan, Philippines and Vietnam on goodwill missions and was instrumental in building bridges of friendship. His efforts earned international recognition for the Indian Coast Guard, which remains a silver lining in the annals of the service.

During the last 34 years, the Flag Officer has been spearheading the growth of the Coast Guard as a multi-mission service. In his earlier appointments at the Coast Guard Headquarters as Director (Administration) and Director (Policy & Plans), he was instrumental in consolidation of the administrative framework of the service and laying the foundation for expansion of the organization in a planned manner. He has also shouldered the responsibility of the Commander, Coast Guard Goa area.

As an Inspector General, he had commanded both Eastern as well as the erstwhile undivided Western Region, which in itself implies having commanded more than 2/3rd of the operational fleet and units of the service. These challenging assignments as the Commander of the Regions were marked by numerous historical turning points. On the Eastern front, it was the success of leading ICG efforts in the Palk Bay at the peak of the ethnic strife, and on the West, it was leading the transformation of the service to counter challenges in the Coastal Security apparatus. The Flag Officer was awarded President?s Tatrakshak Medal (PTM) on 15 Aug 2007 for his distinguished service.

As the Additional Director General of the Indian Coast Guard, he proficiently handled the conflicting demands in a continually enlarging charter of duties. The onerous responsibility included facilitating the organizational growth in an expeditious manner and providing impetus to achieve a high level of operational effectiveness.

The Director General is married to Mrs Urmila Singh and has two daughters.

Officer Rank Structure

A table showing the rank structure of Coast Guard officers with those of the other Indian armed services.

Indian Coast Guard Ranks Indian Army Ranks Indian Navy Ranks Indian Air Force Ranks
Director-General Lieutenant General Vice Admiral Air Marshal
Special Director-General Lieutenant General Vice Admiral Air Marshal
Additional Director-General Lieutenant General Vice Admiral Air Marshal
Inspector-General Major General Rear Admiral Air Vice Marshal
Deputy Inspector-General Brigadier Commodore Air Commodore
Commandant Colonel Captain Group Captain
Commandant (Junior Grade) Lt Colonel Commander Wing Commander
Deputy Commandant Major Lt Commander Sqdn Leader
Assistant Commandant (2 Years) Captain Lieutenant Flight Lieutenant
Assistant Commandant Lieutenant Sub Lieutenant Flying Officer
Officers of Indian Coast Guards
Officers of Indian Coast Guards

Coast Guard Officers

The naming of ranks of officers in the Coast Guard is as same as rank of Central Armed Police Forces. Officers are commissioned in the Coast Guard in one of four branches, as either General-Duty officer, Pilot officer, Technical officer or Law officers. Lady Officers have two branches i.e. General-Duty Officer or Pilot Officer and serve on shore establishments/Air Stations/Headquarters. They are not deployed on board Indian Coast Guard ships. Currently, officers of Indian Coast Guard undergo Basic Military Training at the Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala along with their counterparts of Indian Navy. This helps in the mutual interchange of Officers among these two sister services. While the Indian Coast Guard Academy is under construction in Azhikkal, Kannur district, Kerala.

General-Duty Officers

The command of ships at sea can only be exercised by officers of the General-Duty (GD) branch. The key functions of a General-Duty Officer would be to operate weapons, sensors and different kinds of equipment on board a ship. The safety of the ship and the men would be GD officers responsibility. All the District Commanders (COMDIS) and Commander of Coast Guard Region (COMCG) appointments are exercised by a GD Officer of the Indian Coast Guard. GD officers are graduates in Science or Engineering.

Pilot Officers

Pilot Officers are also part of GD branch. A Pilot Officer gets an opportunity to work at shore Air Stations along the Indian coasts and also embark ships. ICG operates fixed wing aircraft for surveillance of the Exclusive Economic Zone. In addition, helicopters are embarked on Coast Guard Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) to provide local surveillance and perform search and rescue mission at sea. Pilot officers are graduates in Science or Engineering.

Technical Officers

Technical Officers are responsible for operation of advanced technology and sensor systems on board Coast Guard vessels and aircraft, as well as on shore installations. They also command the maintenance wings of the force. Technical Officers are graduates in Engineering.

Law Officers

Law Officers act as legal advisers to their respective commanders. They represent the Indian Coast Guard in legal actions filed by or against the organisation. They also perform the duties of trial law officers in Coast Guard courts, convened to try delinquent Coast Guard personnel. The Directorate of Law at Coast Guard Headquarters is headed by a Deputy Inspector-General and is designated as the Chief Law Officer.

indian coast guards commandos
Indian Coast Guards Commandos

Enrolled personnel

Enrolled personnel in the Coast Guard serve as either a yantrik (technician) or navik (sailor).

  • Yantriks are responsible for operating and maintaining mechanical, electrical or aeronautical equipment and systems on board the Coast Guard vessels and aircraft.
  • Naviks may further serve in the General-Duty or Domestic branches. The General-Duty naviks serve as sailors, weapons systems operators, communication specialists, divers, etc. or in specific maritime or aviation support roles. Domestic branch naviks serve in roles such as stewards, cooks, etc. on board Coast Guard vessels.

Enrolled personnel of Indian Coast Guard are trained along with Indian Naval sailors at the naval training establishment INS Chilka. All training undertaken by Coast Guard personnel is the same as those undertaken by sailors in the Indian Navy. All personnel are trained in operation of weapons systems in cases of emergency.



indian coast guards plane
Indian Coast Guards Dornier Plane

The Indian Coast Guard operates a fleet of:

  • 23 Dornier Do 228 maritime surveillance aircraft
  • 4 HAL Dhruv utility helicopters
  • 17 HAL Chetak utility helicopters

The Indian Coast Guard also operates a large number of Vassels like – Vikram Class, Samarth Class, Vishwast Class, Sankalp Class, Vikram Class, Fast patrol Vassels, Patrol Boats, Patrol Crafts & Hovercrafts.


National Seciruty Guards , NSG, NSG Commandos
Know About : National Security Guards

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