ORMARA: “Our maritime sector has gained unprecedented limelight in the context of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Along with the Pakistan Navy and the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency [PMSA], all operational resources are being optimised by the government to safeguard the sea routes of CPEC as an obligation because it is a pivotal socio-economic project not only for Pakistan and China but the entire region,” said Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif on Tuesday.
He was speaking at a ceremony marking the induction of two newly bought Chinese corvettes, the PMSS Hingol and PMSS Basol, held at the Jinnah Naval Base here.
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has a very clear vision for strengthening the state institutions,” he said while praising the country’s armed forces, including its maritime personnel, for successfully guarding its sea frontiers as well as contributing significantly to its economic growth and development by securing its sea routes and lanes.
“The crucial role of our maritime forces was what we kept in our minds while allocating $15 million for [buying] new capable and potent ships for the PMSA,” he said. “In this context, construction of F-22P frigates and missile craft with China, along with the recently concluded projects of the PN submarines, … is extremely heartening.”
The minister said he was delighted to learn that the vessels had been delivered ahead of their scheduled dates of delivery and yet no compromises had been made in terms of quality standards.
“I have been informed that many improvements have been made in the design and construction of these ships by China, on the recommendations of PMSA, which was done without any extra cost or time. This truly reflects the kind of relationship that exists between our two brotherly countries,” Mr Asif said.
He also commended PMSA director general Rear Admiral Jamil Akhtar for holding the ceremony on the coast of Makran and for naming the vessels after the rivers of Balochistan. “This reflects the importance and significance the country and PMSA attach to this province and its people,” he said.
In his welcome address, Rear Admiral Akhtar said the 68.5-metre vessels were equipped with MTU16V4000M73L engines and had a maximum speed of 27 knots. They were armed with semi-automatic machineguns, navigational radars and rigid-hulled inflatable boats.
Among other tasks, he said, they would be used for preventing the unauthorised exploitation of economic resources in the exclusive economic zone and protecting Pakistani fishing vessels and crewmembers while assisting and coordinating search and rescue operations in the assigned area.
They would also be used for undertaking counternarcotics and anti-human trafficking/smuggling operations.
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Mohammad Zakaullah and Minister for Ports and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo were present on the occasion.