Sea Defenders-2024

Sea Defenders-2024


The four-day maritime security exercise ‘Sea Defenders-2024’ between the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and United States Coast Guard (USCG) concluded at Port Blair on March 9, 2024, aiming to enhance maritime cooperation and interoperability between the two forces.

GS-03 (Security)

Key highlights from the Exercise Scenarios and Demonstrations :

  • It included a Pollution Response Demonstration showcasing expertise in responding to oil spills and environmental hazards.
  • Additionally, it simulated Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) Operations to inspect vessels suspected of unlawful activities.
  • Moreover, the joint exercise allowed personnel from both coast guards to enhance their firefighting and damage control abilities, promoting collaboration and camaraderie.
  • United States Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf participated in engaging in harbour activities.
  • Friendly badminton competitions were organized to foster camaraderie among crews.

Significance :

  • Enhanced Maritime Cooperation: The exercise strengthens maritime cooperation and interoperability between the ICG and USCG, fostering greater coordination in addressing maritime security challenges.
  • Skill Refinement and Training: Provides valuable training opportunities for both Coast Guards to refine their skills and improve their ability to work together effectively.
  • Growing Partnership: The visit of USCGC Bertholf to Port Blair symbolizes the growing partnership between the US and Indian Coast Guard, highlighting their shared commitment to a safer maritime environment.

Indian Coast Guard (ICG):

  • The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) is a branch of the Armed Forces, dedicated to Search and Rescue (SAR) and Maritime Law Enforcement, operating under the Ministry of Defence, with its headquarters in New Delhi.
  • Its establishment stemmed from the aftermath of the 1971 war, and the comprehensive blueprint for its formation was developed by the Rustamji Committee.
  • To ensure effective command and control, the Maritime Zones of India are divided into five Coast Guard Regions, namely, North-West, West, East, North-East, and Andaman & Nicobar, each with its Regional Headquarters situated at Gandhinagar, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Port Blair, respectively.

Functions of ICG:

  • Preventing Smuggling: The ICG’s foremost responsibility is to prevent smuggling activities through maritime routes, exercising jurisdiction over India’s territorial waters, contiguous zone, and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
  • Marine Environment Protection: It plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the marine environment within India’s maritime zones and serves as the coordinating authority for responding to oil spills in Indian waters.
  • Aid to Civil Authority: The ICG has rescued approximately 13,000 individuals during various ‘Aid to Civil Authority’ operations, extending assistance during floods, cyclones, and other natural calamities, notably in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Goa.
  • Maritime Security: Collaborating with neighboring countries, the ICG combats transnational maritime crimes and enhances maritime safety within its area of responsibility and the Indian Ocean Region, aligning with initiatives like ‘SAGAR’ and ‘Neighbourhood First.’
  • Role in Disaster Management: Serving as the ‘First Responder,’ the ICG has averted major ecological disasters and undertaken significant fire-fighting and pollution response operations, exemplified by ‘Sagar Aaraksha-II’ off the Sri Lanka coast aboard the chemical carrier MV X-Press Pearl.