Indian Coast Guard National Flag

Sentinels of

Indian Maritime Zone

Detailed History of Indian Coast Guard[ In Detail ]


The Sea borne smuggling across the seas was rampant towards the end 1960’s threatening the economy of our country. The five Customs patrol craft operated by the Indian Navy for the Central Board of Excise & Customs were grossly inadequate to deter the smugglers. To augment the anti-smuggling effort, as an interim measure, 13 confiscated dhows were inducted despite their inherent limitations, to support the existing fleet. However, this entire force level was only marginally effective to contain the large-scale smuggling activity. The problem of checking sea-borne smuggling traffic was compounded by:

In the backdrop of large scale sea–borne smuggling, the Cabinet Secretariat, in pursuance of the Prime Minister’s directive, on 23 Jan 1970, constituted a study group under the chairmanship of Dr. BD Nag Chaudhari with Air Chief Marshal O.P.Mehra and Admiral RD Katari IN (Retd) amongst others, as members to examine and report on: -

The Nag Choudhari Committee in its report submitted in Aug 1971 recommended that there is an immediate need to build our anti-smuggling capabilities on a three-tier system -Indigenous construction and early acquisition of surface craft for anti-smuggling measures. Hovercraft, in the role of fast interceptor was the choice for immediate augmenting of our limited anti-smuggling capability till the new fast surface crafts were acquired. Acquisition of surveillance aircraft in a phased programme could be similarly.geared up at a convenient stage.

On 03 May 1973, a meeting under the chairmanship of Shri VC Shukla, the Minister for Defence Production, was held to expedite the acquisition of suitable boats for the Customs. The requirement of two types of patrol boat was felt – a large size patrol boat with 1000 NM range and a max speed of 30 knots, fitted with light armament and capacity for 16 crew and a small boat of higher speed, fitted with light armament, to carry 12 crew. In the inter-ministerial meeting (in which both the Minister for Defence Production and Minister of Revenue and Expenditure were present), it was agreed that the medium boats should also be acquired in pursuance of the recommendations of the Nag Chaudhari Committee. In a subsequent meeting with the Ministry of Defence Production on 22 Nov 1973, the customs indicated a requirement of 20 modified SDB Mark-II type for their department.

Need for the Coast Guard

The need for a Coast Guard force in India to perform various non-military maritime roles had been felt for sometime, particularly by Naval Headquarters. It was however, not until 31 Aug 1974 that a serious official consideration was given to this problem when the Defence Secretary addressed a note to the Cabinet Secretary, spelling out the need for setting up of a Coast Guard type national organisation. In essence the Defence Secretary’s note brought out that an organisation for ensuring safety of life and property at sea and for law enforcement in the waters under our jurisdiction had not kept pace with the substantial increase in maritime activity in our surrounding seas. The note had further suggested that a suitable inter-ministerial body could examine the adequacy of the existing organisations and the possibility of closer coordination between their activities either by merging some or establishing a central organisation like a Coast Guard. In this context, the Chief of the Naval Staff had also stressed the need for greater inter-ministerial coordination in the maritime field to avoid duplication of effort and for dovetailing measures to ensure that the national objectives are attained by an integrated approach. It was also felt that the law enforcement activities should not be undertaken by the Navy, which would inevitably detract them from their operational role and interfere with their training. Further, deployment of sophisticated warships and manpower trained for specialised roles, on law enforcement tasks on a continuos basis in peace time neither was nor considered cost-effective.

Rustamji Committee

In the wake of the amendment to the Maintenance of Internal Security Act to provide for preventive detention for offences relating to smuggling and foreign exchange violations, a concerted drive was launched to combat smuggling. In this context, in Sep 1974, the Committee of Secretaries under the Chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary appointed a committee to examine the shortcomings in our anti-smuggling and other maritime activities and suggest the measures to protect India’s marine resources and the creation of the Coast Guard. The committee was to be chaired by Shri KF Rustamji, Special Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs with Vice Admiral VA Kamath, PVSM, Vice Chief of Naval Staff and Shri Jasjit Singh, Chairman, Central Board of Excise and Customs amongst its members. The Rustamji Committee in its report submitted on 31 Jul 1975 strongly recommended the setting up of a Coast Guard type organisation for general superintendence and policing of our sea areas in peacetime. The committee’s view had become even more pressing by virtue of the discovery of oil in our offshore areas. This committee also recommended that the Coast Guard Service should be patterned on the Navy and work under the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The recommendations of the Rustamji Committee were considered and accepted by the Secretaries on 07 Jan 1976. The committee, however, decided that the new organisation should function under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The decision was subsequently reviewed at the level of the Prime Minister and it was decided to place it under the Ministry of Defence(MoD).

Key Step – MOD Paper

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) thereupon prepared a paper for consideration of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affair (CCPA) seeking approval for: -

On 07 Jan 1977, the Cabinet approved the proposal for the setting up an interim Coast Guard Organisation within the Navy to undertake specified Coast Guard tasks. The CCPA directed that the budgetary provision for the Coast Guard should be under a separate head in the estimates of the Department of Revenue and Banking. Further, it had also directed that a detailed plan for the development of the Coast Guard should be drawn up.

Maritime Zones Act-1976

With the increasing awareness of the economic benefits to be gained from the sea and sea beds, certain Coastal States had claimed jurisdiction over the vast areas of sea around them. The Third conference of the UNCLOS resolved the inadequacies and evolved a regime for the international sea bed area. In conformity with the existing trend the world over, the Government of India enacted the 'Maritime Zones Act' on 25 Aug 1976. This Act came into force on 15 Jan 1977, bringing the entire Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), an area of 2.01 million square kilometres within our national jurisdiction. The policing of this vast sea area and to enforce the national laws and protecting the national interests would be a mammoth task and call for a dedicated organisation.

Interim Coast Guard Organisation

Interim Coast Guard Cell formed on February 1, 1977
Seated(L to R) Lt Cdr Dutt, Cmde Sarathy, Vice Adm V.A.Kamath,
Cdr Bhanot, Mr. Varadan
Standing(L to R) Mr. Sandhu, Mr.Jain, Mr. Pillai, Mr. Malhotra, Mr. Sastri

On 07 Jan 1977, following the Cabinet’s decision the interim Coast Guard Organisation came into being under Naval Headquarters on 01 Feb 1977. The force consisting of two frigates (IN Ships Kirpan and Kuthar) seconded from the Indian Navy and five patrol boats (Pamban, Puri, Pulicat, Panaji and Panvel) transferred from the Home Ministry. These assets were deployed for the discharge of the Coast Guard duties along the coasts and around the Island territories. The aim was to maintain surveillance of our sea area and to assess the extent of maritime activity in our maritime zones with a limited force.

Kamath Plan

The overall plan for the Coast Guard Service was prepared by the Officer on Special Duty (OSD), VAdm VA Kamath as required by the terms of reference in three parts and submitted on 05 Jul 1978 for the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affair (CCPA). The Plans are: -

  1. Part I dealing with the Main Plan supported by the detailed appendices at Part II covered the following: -
    • A study of the various maritime agencies in India and identification of such activities, which may be dovetailed to avoid duplication of effort and ensure an integrated approach.
    • Organisation and assigning roles for the Coast Guard.
    • Terms and conditions of the service.
    • Legal aspects of raising the new Service.
    • Identification of areas in which the Coast Guard would have to rely on the Indian Navy and other Central Govt agencies.
    • Budget.
  2. Part III dealing with the development plan for the Coast Guard, a six-year roll - on plan, for the period 1978-84.

Prime Minister Shri Morarji Desai Inspecting the Guard of Honour While Inaugurating the Indian Coast Guard(1978)

Vice Admiral V.A.Kamath accompanying the Prime Minister after inaugural function at Naval Dockyard, Mumbai(1978)

Coast Guard Act - 1978

The process, which began nearly a decade ago, had crystallized with the formation of the Coast Guard Service by passing an Act in the Parliament on 18 Aug 1978 and brought into force on 19 Aug 1978.

“An Act to provide for the constitution and regulation of an Armed Force of the Union for ensuring the security of the maritime zones of India with a view to the protection of maritime and other national interests in such zones and for matters connected therewith. Be it enacted by Parliament in the Twenty-ninth Year of the Republic of India”

Duties and Functions

  1. It shall be the duty of the Coast Guard to protect by such measures, as it thinks fit the maritime and other national interests of India in the maritime zones of India.
  2. Without prejudice to the generality of the provisions of subsection -(a), the measures referred to therein may provide for: –
    • Ensuring the safety and protection of artificial islands, offshore terminals, installations and other structures and devices in any maritime zone
    • Providing protection to fishermen including assistance to them at sea while in distress
    • Taking such measures as are necessary to preserve and protect the maritime environment and to prevent and control marine pollution
    • Assisting the customs and other authorities in anti-smuggling operations
    • Enforcing the provisions of such enactment as are for the time being in force in the maritime zones and
    • Such other matters, including measures for the safety of life and property at sea and collection of scientific data as may be prescribed.
  3. The Coast Guard shall perform its functions under this section in accordance with, and subject to such rules as may be prescribed and such rules may, in particular, make provisions for ensuring that the Coast Guard functions in close liaison with Union agencies, institutions and authorities so as to avoid duplication of effort.
Force Level

The Coast Guard, in 1978 began with two old frigates seconded by the Navy and five small patrol vessels from MHA. Over the past two decades, it has attained a force level of 80 ships and craft and 45 aircraft and helicopters as follows:-

Development Plans

In 1978, the CG Advisory Board prepared the Coast Guard Development Plan (CGDP) 1978-1990, the Kamath Plan, for the balanced development and growth of the service. In 1987, in view of the changed situation, a revised 15-year perspective plan (1985-2000) was prepared as follows:-
Type of Forces
Deep Sea Patrol Vessels
Rescue Cum Pollution Control Vessels
Interceptor Boats
Coastal Surveillance Aircraft (Dornier)
Medium Range Surveillance Aircraft
Rescue Helicopters (ALH)
Light Helicopters (Chetaks)
Interceptor Craft
Medium Patrol Vessel

The planned growth of the service is being pursued through the five yearly CG Development Plans, which are co-terminus with the National Plan. While formulating them, close attention is paid to avoid overlapping of responsibilities with the Navy and other agencies like the Customs, BSF etc. and to make optimum utilisation of the available resources.

The CGDP 1985-1990 could not be formally approved due to resource crunch. The acquisition proposals were approved on a piece meal basis upto Rs 518.88 crores. The CGDP 1990-1995 was recast to 1992-1997 in line with the national plan owing to severe resource crunch leading to a two year planned holiday. The plan projection was made for Rs 2286.92 crores, but approved for Rs 1223 crores. This reduction has led to drastic cut in the projected force level. The CGDP 1997-2002 was initially projected for Rs 3277 Cr, but was approved for Rs.1850 Cr.  CGDP 2002-07 was approved for a total outlay of Rs 4317.01 Cr.  CGDP 2007-12(XI Plan) was concurred for an outlay of Rs 7000/- Cr. However, MoD directed CGHQ to revise the plan view implementation of VI CPC and CCS sanctions post 26/11.  'Development Plan', before 'Manpower', add "The revised CGDP 2007-12 was approved for ` 7930 Cr. The CGDP 2012-17 has been approved by the Govt  for an outlay of `16464 Cr."

Manpower The Coast Guard, a small force of 5440 uniformed personnel (633 officers, 4580 enrolled personnel including 82 officers and 145 personnel from the Navy and other Defence Services on deputation) is taking on the ever-increasing responsibilities in protecting the nation's interest in the maritime zones. At present, about 70% of these personnel are serving at sea or manning the front line squadrons to operate 65 ships and 44 aircraft. This is an enviable tooth to tail ratio by any standards. The cut down in the Coast Guard strength is basically to share the naval resources in training and logistics to avoid duplication of effort.






  • TARABAI – (AD 1675-1761) The widow of Rajaram, one of the sons of Shivaji, she took over the government of the Maratha State after the death of her husband as the Regent to her son, shivaji III. She pursued the struggle against the Mughals with astonishing vigour from her capital Satara.
  • AHALYA BAI (AD 1795 )– one of the most famous rulers of India, she was the daughter of Manakoji of Shinde of Aurangabad and was married in 1743 to Khande Rao, the son of Malhar Rao Holkar, the founder of the Holkar State. Ahalya Bai ruled for 30 years and is considered as one of the purest and most exemplary rulers that ever existed. Her fame as good and just ruler still survives.
  • LAKSHMI BAI (AD 1835-1858) - The Rani of Jhansi. A brave woman who fought the British tooth and nail. In the ‘First war of Indian Independence’ she was killed in a savage battle near Gwalior Fort. AKKA DEVI (AD 1010-64) ca. - In the list of the famous heroines and administrators of Karnataka, the name of Akka Devi stands very high. She was the daughter of the Chalukya ruler, Dashvarman, and was probably married to the Kadamba chief, Manjuravarman, and ruled the Kingdom jointly with him. She was also an intrepid warrior and defeated many enemies. She built many temples and gave liberally for the cause of education.
  • NAIKI DEVI (AD 1178 ) - The queen of Gujarat. The mother Mulraja II who ruled Anhilwara Patan. She was the daughter of Parmardin of Kadamba dynasty. During the infancy of her son, Gujrat was invaded by Muhammad Ghori. She herself led the army with the child in her lap and defeated the invaders at a pass near Abu. The infant king died shortly after the invasion.
  • GANGA DEVI (AD 1361-71)- She was the wife of Vira Kampa Raya of Vijaynagar and accompanied her husband on his expeditions against the neighbouring states. She wrote the Sanskrit epic ‘Madhur Vijayam’ on the exploits of her husband. 
  • AKKADEVI  - In the list of the famous heroines and administrators of Karnataka, the name of Akka Devi stands very high.  She was the daughter of the Chalukya ruler, Dashvarman, and was probably married to the Kadamba Chief, Majuravarman, and ruled the Kingdom jointly with him.  She was also an intrepid warrior who defeated many enemies.  She built many temples and gave liberally for the casue of education.
    RANI ABBAKKA  - 'Abbakkadevi', wife of a Banga Raja and the famous 'Queen of Ullala', was a staunch opponent of the Portuguese and put up a brave and persistent opposition to the Portuguese expansion.  Once in 1555, the queen invited the wrath of the Portuguese by assisting against them a naval engagement near Mangalore between Luis de Mello and a solitary vessel belonging to the Raja of Cannanore, when she ceased to pay tributes to Portuguese, a punitive expedition sent by the Portuguese against her was defeated.  The fiery queen was always seeking for an opportunity to free herself from Portuguese control and if possible to undermine their authority in Kanara.  She also built a fortress at Ullal opposite to the Portuguese fort at Mangalore, before negotiating a final peace treaty.
    RAJSHREE  - Royal Eminence
    RAJTARANG - Royal Musical Note
    RAJKIRAN - Royal Light