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Indian Navy to learn coastal security lessons

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Indian Navy will study French maritime security apparatus

NEW DELHI (PTI): Six months after the Mumbai terror attacks, the Indian Navy and Coast Guard are taking a hard look at the over 200-year-old naval security net that Napoleon Bonaparte had cast around France.

Indian maritime security agencies are looking at the security apparatus that Napoleon had put in place by making use of the 17th century military engineer Vauban's fortified military ports.

"The Coast Guard Director General has already visited France last month to study their maritime security apparatus and a Navy Rear Admiral will be there by end of June for the purpose," Defence Ministry officials said here Wednesday.

What the two maritime security forces would be keenly researching about are the coastal security command and control structures that Napoleon put in place using fortified port towns of Brest in the Atlantic Ocean in north France and Toulon in the Mediterranean Sea in south France built by Vauban for French king Loius XIV.

"We have found a lot of similarities in the coastal security needs of both India and France. Their system could be of use to us and hence this study," Navy officers said.

With the government designating the Navy as the overall maritime security in-charge this February, it is currently grappling with issues of multiplicity of authority vested in different ministries such as Shipping, Fisheries, Oil exploration, Customs and State police forces, all having a stake in safe seas, but with their own security arrangements. "In this scenario, the Navy, being the overall in charge, is trying to create a balance in scenarios that cause ego clashes, leading to poor command and control structures. We are studying other nations' experience in setting up structures. France has in place a single-point authority that has been successfully operational for the last 200 years," a Naval officer said.

The Navy would also look at the French technology solution called SPATIONAV that backed up the single-point command structure for maritime security, providing a comprehensive, real-time picture of the seas around France.

"We have asked our officers to study the coastal security concept of France and submit a report, which will be examined by us for evolving India's comprehensive coastal surveillance system," the naval officer said.

Besides the French one, the Australian and Israeli models are also under consideration. “We want to study the best of the practices followed everywhere. The Israelis have dealt with terrorists using water scooters and we are trying to get more information about the model,” the official added.

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