The government of Mauritius says it will in 2016 provide the National Coast Guard (NCG) with a new Dornier DO 228 maritime surveillance aircraft and 12 new fast attack craft from India.
In a statement published on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Maritime Air Squadron (MAS) of the National Coast Guard last week, the government said the Dornier will join the existing MAS fleet of three fixed-wing turbo-props and three helicopters.
The DO 228, which will be used to monitor the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), will be supplied by Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL). The MAS already operates two DO 228s acquired from HAL.
The MAS was set up in June 1990 with the aim of providing a greater surveillance cover over the vast EEZ of Mauritius; better and easier communication to and from the outlying islands of Mauritius namely Agalega, Rodrigues, St. Brandon and Tromelin; increasing the scope of Search and Rescue operations around Mauritius; providing a means of disaster relief and casualty evacuation for the dependencies of Mauritius; and pollution control.
The first aircraft of the squadron, the Dornier DO-228 (MPCG-1) arrived in Mauritius in June 1990. The aircraft was manufactured by HAL. The second aircraft, the BN-2T Defender (MPCG-2) was acquired in October 1992 from Britten Norman. The third aircraft, another Dornier DO-228 (MPCG-3) was bought from HAL.
The squadron is headed presently by a Commander, seven gazetted officers as aircrew and 54 squadron personnel.
It has three helicopters – a Cheetah, a Chetak and a Dhruv. They were also acquired from HAL. Further, the statement said a new aircraft hangar which will be used for maintenance, repair and overhaul works will be built on one of the main islands to give the force the capacity to service its own aircraft.
According to the agreement signed between the Mauritian government and HAL in November last year, the DO 228, is valued at $16 million. It comes complete with spares, accessories, crew training and technical support.
In terms of the agreement, HAL will fit the aircraft with a 360 degree surveillance radar, Forward Looking Infra-Red System, Traffic Collision and Avoidance System and Weather Radar.
Police commissioner Mario Nobin said that the MAS plays an important role in maritime surveillance of the country’s EEZ and carries out important missions such as outer islands support, search and rescue operations and casualty evacuation. He added that over the years, Dornier and Defender aircraft have been used in joint security maritime operations with foreign countries such as Reunion Island, Madagascar, France and India. “This multilateral cooperation has strengthened our partnership with these countries in preventing and detecting illegal activities in our territorial waters”, he said.
The 12 navy vessels due for delivery to the Mauritian coastguard starting next year were ordered from India’s Goa Shipyard Limited in two separate deals in May and August last year.
The US$27 million order includes ten 14.5m-long fast interceptor boats (FIBs) and two fast attack craft (FAC) which will be used in day and night patrols, search-and-rescue (SAR)and special forces operations on shallow waters by the MCGS. Machine-guns, ammunition and body armour for crews of the FIBs are part of the order.
The FAC order is for one 50.44 metre-long fast patrol vessel with a top speed of 35 knots. The MCGS plans to use the vessel for coastal defence and protection, hydrographic surveys, pollution control, anti-smuggling, anti-poaching and search and rescue operations. The other FAC will be used on sea patrols by the Mauritius Revenue Authority (MRA).