August 11, 2010:
The Indian Coast Guard has ordered twelve 8000TD hovercraft from a British firm. These will cost $4.5 million each. The 8000TD has a top speed of 93 kilometers an hour and is able to carry nine tons of people or cargo, including vehicles. Minimum crew is two, and up to 84 people can be carried comfortably. The 8000TD is 22.5 meters long and 11 meters wide. Endurance is five hours and armament usually consists of a 12.7mm machine-gun and small arms carried by the crew of ten or more sailors. The twelve 8000TDs will be delivered over the next four years. Ten years ago, the Indian coast guard bought six 8000TDs, and were satisfied with their performance.
The hovercraft are mainly used to patrol the shallow, often swampy, coastal waters and offshore islands, mainly to deal with smugglers and other illegal activities. The hovercraft are also very useful when a commercial ship has sunk and a rescue ship is needed in a hurry. India does not have a lot of rescue aircraft and helicopters available for this, and these are often of limited usefulness if the distressed ship has a lot of passengers. The hovercraft can also get emergency help to coastal villages in the event of natural disasters.