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New Delhi, 27 August. The 10th edition of the National Maritime Search & Rescue Exercise (SAREX -22) was inaugurated in Chennai today by Shri Ajay Kumar, Hon’ble Defence Secretary, Government of India. The two-day exercise which is conducted under the aegis of the National Maritime Search and Rescue Board (NMSARB) is hosted by the Indian Coast Guard, the nodal maritime SAR coordinating agency for the Indian Search & Rescue Region (ISRR). In addition to 51 participants from national Maritime SAR stakeholders, the exercise is being attended by 24 foreign observers from 16 friendly foreign countries. SAREX-22 will be spread over two days (27 & 28 Aug 22) and will validate the Standard Operating Procedures and best practices during the conduct of a Mass Rescue Operation (MRO).

The theme of this edition of the biennial exercise is Capacity Building Towards Marine Passenger Safetyand signifies the resolve and commitment of the NMSARB and other stakeholder agencies in providing succor during large-scale contingencies within our ISSR and beyond. DG VS Pathania, PTM, TM, Director General Indian Coast Guard, who is also the Chairman of the NMSAR Board was also present during the meeting which was also attended by dignitaries from the Ministry of Shipping, Civil Aviation and Fisheries.

On the first day i.e. 27 Aug, the event focused on Table Top exercises, workshops,s and Seminars on issues of passenger safety, preparedness, challenges, and way ahead. The event culminated with brainstorming sessions and deliberations amongst the national and international participants to mitigate various challenges associated with MRO.

On 28 Aug 2022, the second day of the event, the Sea exercise involving two large-scale contingencies was carried out off Chennai coast with the participation of 16 ICG Ships, 01 Naval Ship, 06 ICG aircraft, 01 Naval ALH, 01 IAF Helicopter, Passenger Vessel Swarajdweep, 01 tuggers from Chennai Port Trust and 01 boats from the Customs. The 1st contingency simulated distress onboard a passenger vessel having 500 pax onboard whereas the 2nd scenario depicted the ditching of a civil aircraft with 200 passengers. The response matrix in the sea exercise involved various methodologies to evacuate distressed passengers wherein the advent of new-age technology such as the use of remote controlled lifebuoy was demonstrated. Amongst the air elements used in the sea exercise, the rescue modalities demonstration by the newly inducted Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH-MK-III) highlighted the ease and precision of using state-of-art aircraft in large-scale rescue operations.

Further, the exercise also acted as an enabler to foster mutual understanding, promote collaborative approach and share best practices followed, whilst dealing with large-scale contingencies such as MRO.

Over the years, Indian Coast Guard has evolved as a premier maritime agency rightfully steering the efforts of the GoI toward a stable and effective M-SAR construct. ICG is also having added responsibility wherein a MoU has been signed with Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) member states for coordinating SAR in Indian Ocean Region and ICG has been nominated as the implementing agency as per the provisions of MoU. Further, ICG has also been nominated as the nodal agency for SAR activities in Indo Pacific Region. ICG’s increased focus on the maritime safety aspect through collaboration and cooperation with all stakeholders will go a long way in strengthening India’s global responsibility in sync with the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India’s vision of ‘Security And Growth For All in the Region, i.e. SAGAR’.

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