The Seychelles Coast Guard has taken delivery of a 27.5 metre patrol boat from India, which will be used for coastal surveillance, anti-poaching, anti-smuggling and search and rescue activities.
The vessel was officially handed over by the Indian Coast Guard director general, Vice Admiral H C S Bisht at the Seychelles Coast Guard base on Ile Perseverance late last month and named Hermes after a fishing bank. President James Michel was also present at the handover ceremony, together with Vice-President Danny Faure and High Commissioner of India Sanjay Panda.
Seychelles chief of defence forces, Brigadier Leopold Payet, said: “The addition of this new craft to our fleet will boost our capability to undertake surveillance and safeguarding of our maritime areas and enhance our capability to deal with various maritime crimes within our region,” reports the Seychelles News Agency.
“Undertaking continuous maritime patrols and policing activities in our vast exclusive economic zone (EEZ) constitute the bulk of Seychelles Coast Guard duties,” he said. The Seychelles has a 1.3 million square kilometre maritime zone.
The transfer of the vessel was announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the state visit of President James Michel to India in August 2015. The vessel arrived in the Seychelles in early January. The aluminium hull vessel is powered by a twin water-jet propulsion system giving a maximum speed of 45 knots. It was manufactured by Larsen and Toubro in India.
India has previously donated other vessels to the Seychelles. The 46 metre SDB Mk 5 patrol boat PS Constant (formerly INS Tarasa) was handed over in November 2014 while the PS Topaz (formerly INS Tarmugli) was donated by India in 2005.
India has had bilateral relations with the Seychelles since it gained independence in 1976, especially in the fields of health, education and defence. In March 2015 during an official visit, Modi launched the Coastal Surveillance Radar station located on a mountainous central region of the main island of Mahé.
Modi also announced that a second Dornier surveillance aircraft would be donated to the Seychelles Coast Guard to increase maritime security – it is scheduled to be delivered at the end of the year. The first Dornier Do 228 was given to the Seychelles in early 2013.
The Seychelles Coast Guard fleet further expanded in April 2014 when China donated the 38 metre Etoile patrol boat, built specifically for the Seychelles. The new vessels join the Topaz, Andromache, La Fleche and Le Vigilant (the latter two donated by the UAE). China previously donated two Y-12 aircraft for maritime surveillance.
The Seychelles Coast Guard has now a fleet of 15 boats, including four patrol vessels over 40 metres in length, three between 20 to 30 metres and eight for fast response.