New Delhi, Jan 31 (Agencies): ICG Director General Vice Admiral Anil Chopra here on Monday said that the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) will triple its fleet size from the existing 100 vessels to 300 ships by 2020.

He added that apart from raising its manpower to 20,000 personnel from the existing 12,000 in the next one decade, the maritime security forces will also double its aviation wing's strength from the present 50 to 100 aircraft.

First, he disclosed, the coast guard would double its ship strength to 200 vessels by 2012. It already has about 160 vessels on orders with Indian shipyards, Chopra said.

He said the government has given its approval for a proposal to buy 30 new helicopters for the coast guard and for leasing eight surveillance helicopters. The leased helicopters would be based in Mumbai, Kochi, Visakhapatnam and Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar.

Vice Admiral Chopra said Hindustan Aeronautics Limited had supplied a helicopter to the coast guard last year. It had been ordered before the 26/11 terror attacks in 2008. Three more helicopters were expected to be supplied by March this year.

The defence ministry has also placed orders for four Dornier patrol aircraft to augment the existing strength of 24 Dorniers. These aircraft were expected to be delivered by April this year.

Also, the government had in 2009 sanctioned acquisition of 12 more aircraft, taking the total strength to 40 Dorniers.

"We have signed a contract to upgrade the systems on the existing 24 Dorniers such as latest surveillance radars and infra-red sensors and automated identification system. These upgraded aircraft will be more capable after being retrofitted," he said.

On the training of coast guard personnel, Chopra said the government had sanctioned construction of an academy to train its officers on the lines of the Naval Academy. Though land had been identified in a couple of places, there were some pros and cons and it was yet to be finalised.

Asked when would the coast guard have a director general from its own cadre, instead of the current practice of appointments from the Navy for the top job, Chopra said the government had recently decided to have an additional director general in the ICG from its own cadre.

"In due course, the government will decide (on appointing ICG cadre officers as its director general)," he added.

Asked about the project to install a coastal surveillance network of radars and why it was moving at a slow pace, Chopra said the task was huge as radars would have to be placed atop 46 lighthouses, but most of these were over 100 years old.

He said the ICG, with help from Indian Institute of Technology and Bharat Electronic Limited, would carry out surveys and study the strength of the structures. "If there is delay due to these efforts, it is fine," he added.