CHITTAGONG Mar 22, 2017 (BSS) - Two more frigates would be included in the Coast Guard fleet as the government is all set to procure the ships from Italy in August this year as part of its effort to further increasing strength of the force to protect Bangladesh's maritime boundary.
Officials of Coast Guard said raising both manpower and equipment strength of coast guard is crucial to defend the huge maritime boundary of Bangladesh and preventing illegal fishing and smuggling, trafficking of arms and drugs through the sea and also to protect marine resources.
Although the government had already procured two frigates from Italy for Coast Guard, those are not sufficient for the force to keep vigil over Bangladesh's huge maritime boundary to do its job properly as 'Guardian at Sea', the motto of the force, they opined.
Talking to the members of Diplomatic Correspondents Association, Bangladesh (DCAB) yesterday onboard at CGS Tajuddin in almost 150 kilometre down from Cox's Bazar in the Bay of Bengal, the officials however, said strengthening coast guard is a demand of time following the accelerated pace of Bangladesh's economic activities centering the Bay of Bengal in the recent years.
Besides, there are huge potentials of blue economy to give a further boost to the country's overall economic activities, they maintained.
They said apart from these, the coast guard has a huge responsibility to prevent militancy as there is a possibility to spread militant activities through sea and providing security to fisheries and mineral resources.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam who witnessed various exercise of Coast Guard in the Bay of Bengal said the government is working to further strengthening the Coast Guard to protect the country's maritime boundary from various illegal activities including smuggling of arms, narcotics and illegal fishing.
"Not only in sea, it (coast guard) is also working inland water areas to prevent 'Jatka" fishing and for that people are getting positive results for its activities", he added.
Shahriar Alam said although the capacity of Coast Guard has increased during the tenure of present government, but it is not sufficient in the present perspective of global scenario and following winning huge maritime areas in the Bay of Bengal from India and Myanmar.
"In the past many foreign fishing ships used to enter into Bangladesh's maritime areas for illegal fishing. But, now the situation has been changed following the vigilance of Coast Guard. At present, no foreign ship can fishing in the country's maritime areas without challenge," he said.
The state minister said as an independent nation, Bangladesh will increase its strength in the sea to protect its resources and prevent all sorts of illegal activities through the sea.
In this connection, he mentioned that Bangladesh is now ranked at 46th from the earlier 137th in world rating in terms of Bangladesh Naval Forces strength following inclusion of two submarines in the forces fleet recently.
Deputy Director General of Bangladesh Coast Guard Yahya Syed said along with procuring frigate from abroad, the coast guard is also constructing ships, large patrol vassals and tugboats for the forces in Khulna and Narayanganj shipyards.
" Hopefully we, would be able to provide full security in our maritime areas soon," he opined.
Zonal Commander of Coast Guard Captain Shahidul Islam said the Coast Guard should have to be strengthened as huge economic activities are being carried out centering the Bay of Bengal at present.
A 1320 MW coal-based power plant is being built in Matarbari area in Moheshkhali while agreement has signed with some foreign companies for exploration of oil and gas in 4-5 well in the sea following demarcation of maritime boundary. So, ensuring security in these areas are become crucial one as foreigners have already demanded their security in the areas.
Under these situations, the capacity of Coast Guard have to be strengthened to this end, he added.
Later, the Coast Guard demonstrated their works and activities in the Bay of Bengal and exercises how it can work to chase foreign ships engaged in illegal fishing and get involve in fire fighting activities when any merchant ship catches fire in the sea. The force also conducted an exercise by firing targets from the frigate.
The state minister and other guests witnessed the exercise.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)