Maritime Security Current Affairs - 2020

India to set up Maritime Research Coordination Centre in Sri Lanka

On January 19, 2020, Indian National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval met Sri Lankan President Gotbaya Rajpaksa. He discussed setting up of maritime research coordination centre in the country. The establishment of research centre is important to learn maritime activities in the Indian Ocean Region.


The Sri Lankan President and the Indian NSA discussed improving bilateral relations and also to strengthen cooperation between the armed forces of the countries. India recently extended military assistance of 50 million USD to Sri Lanka. The visit highlights that India is trying to create robust maritime security cooperation involving Maldives and Sri Lanka.

Maritime Irritants between the Countries

In spite of two maritime agreements that were signed in 1974 and 1976, there are several irritants between the countries. In 1974 agreement, India agreed to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty over Katchchativu island but with some safeguards. The safeguards were included by India to protect its fishermen. However, Sri Lanka till date complains that the agreement failed to give fishing rights to Sri Lankan fishermen.

Also. The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project that was undertaken by India to link Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar has been stalled due to environmental and livelihood concerns. The canal will cut short the distances of Indian ships navigating between East and West coasts of India.

ICG organises 18th National Maritime Search and Rescue Board meeting

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) organised 18th National Maritime Search and Rescue Board (NMSARB) meeting in New Delhi. The annual meeting was held to discuss policy issues, formulate guidelines & procedures as well as assess the efficacy of National Search and Rescue Plan (NSRP).

Key Highlights

Deliberations were held on various maritime safety issues and identifying areas of improvement of Search and Rescue services. The meet also reiterated the need to focus on sustainable maritime safety in Area of Responsibility (AOR).

Participants: The apex-level meeting was chaired by Director General Indian Coast Guard and Chairman NMSARB K Natarajan. It was attended by 48 Board members from various ministries, agencies, all Coastal States & Union Territories (UTs). Meeting included three new permanent members to meet- Ministry of Shipping, Department of Animal husbandry, Dairy and Fisheries and Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS). For the first time, three strong components of the M-SAR (Maritime Search and Rescue) – Secretary (Ministry of Shipping), Secretary (Ministry of Civil Aviation) and Secretary (Department of Fisheries) participated in annual meeting.

Awards Conferred

MV Asia Emerald III was awarded the SAR Award for Merchant Vessel for the year 2018-19. It saved 6 lives from a distressed fishing boat.

Anand A Ambhire from Maharashtra was awarded SAR Award for Fisherman for saving 11 lives from a sinking fishing boat.

Indian Coast Guard Ships (ICGS) Sujoy and ICGS Vikram were jointly awarded SAR Award for Government Owned SAR Unit for saving 46 lives from ROSV Sagar Sampada off New Mangalore.

Indian Coast Guard and SAR operations

Indian Coast Guard is India’s nodal agency for Maritime Search and Rescue. since inception in 1978, it has rescued 9,672 lives by coordinating 3,180 search and rescue missions, which inter alia includes 2,479 air sorties and 3,540 ship deployments. ICG thus saves one precious life every second day and only in 2019, ICG also escorted over 6,000 fishing boats to safe locations during passage of three severe cyclonic storms. In 2019 alone, ICG took 300 SAR missions involving rescue of close to 1,000 lives at sea which includes 27 MEDEVAC (Medical evacuation) operations and some of rescue operations were conducted at the fringes of 4.6 million sq km vast Indian Search and Rescue Region (ISRR).

ICG has established three Maritime Rescue Coordination centers at Chennai, Mumbai and Andaman & Nicobar Islands and developed voluntary ship reporting system INDSAR (Indian Ship Reporting System) to divert ship nearest to site of incident for immediate Search & Rescue (SAR) assistance.