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NEW DELHI: Defence Minister AK Antony on Monday said that a coastal surveillance network was being established with 46 stations as part of it to ensure real-time coastline monitoring.Commissioning the Indian Coast Guard ship 'Abheek' in Kochi today, he also extended the government's support for the Coast Guard's plan to substantially increase its force levels to face emerging challenges. He also emphasised the importance the government accords to coastal security in view of the asymmetric threats from the sea. Coast Guard, he said, will have 150 ships and about 100 aircraft over the next five years. Coast Guard ships are the "workhorses" of the coast, he said. 

The 50m vessel commissioned today is the second in the series of 21 patrol vessels. It weighs 290 tonnes and can achieve a maximum speed of 33 knots with an endurance of 1,500 nautical miles at a speed of 13 knots. 

It is equipped with state-of-art weaponry and advanced communication and navigational equipment and makes for an ideal platform for undertaking multifarious close coast missions such as surveillance, interdictions, search and rescue and medical evacuation. Some of its special features include integrated bridge management and machinery control systems. 

It also has an integrated gun mount with an indigenous fire control system. It will be based in Chennai under the administrative and operational control of the Command Coast Guard Region (East).

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