Coast Guard hovercraft with women captain reaches Chennai shores

On the International Women’s day, Dy Comdt Anuradha Shukla and  Dy Comdt Shirin Chandran proudly parked their highly technical and navigationally challenging Coast Guard Hovercraft H-197on the beach at Chennai near Napier bridge for technical halt after a long voyage of 500 kms through the rough patches of the coastal sea area ensuring security preparedness for protecting the Tamil Nadu sea coast from any anti-national elements.

They started their surveillance voyage from Coast Guard Station Mandapam, near Rameshwaram on 6th of this month and after effectively patrolling the sensitive Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay area staged through Karaikal to reach Chennai shores this afternoon. Anuradha and Shirin are amongst the first four women officers who were trained on Air Cushion Vehicles popularly known as Hovercraft in 2017 wherein the Indian Coast Guard took a major step towards empowering women and facilitating greater gender parity, and became the first force to deploy women officers in operational roles on board its ships that patrol the country's maritime zones even near the International Maritime borders with our neighbouring countries including Sri Lanka.  By doing so, India joined the select few nations, including Australia, Germany, Israel and the United States, which have allowed the women officers to take on command roles for law enforcement and combat roles.

These women officers have been trained to handle all types of situations including interception of suspicious activity boats like the ones used during 26/11 terror attacks. It is ever since, that these women officers have now graduated to become the Captain of the Craft ‘CoC’ to independently pilot the hovercraft during operational sorties.

Anuradha has become the first woman Captain of Craft in the Eastern Region of the Indian Coast Guard. The Coast Guard Regional Headquarters, at Chennai deployed the hovercraft with these women officers all the way from Mandapam in order to provide them with varied operational scenario so that they are confident and capable of handling all missions under the Coast Guard charter including boarding suspicious vessels, chasing such boats in the high seas or catching contraband smugglers. The Coast Guard Women officers are also active in the flying branch as they independently operate Dornier surveillance aircraft and Chetak helicopter in the force.